12 June 2010, worldwide: “Children should not be working, instead they should have books in their hands,” says Amarlal, a 14-year-old former bonded child labourer from India. “I know this because I had to start working at a very young age in the stone quarries. I want every child to go to school and to be able to have a good, free education.” Pleas such as Amal’s can still be heard from millions of children today, 11 years after the international community unanimously adopted ILO Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour.
The vital importance of the convention is clearly underlined by the political commitment shown to date by the 171 countries which have ratified it. Strong and consistent efforts by civil society organisations and individuals drove the agenda even further forward. In 1998, the Global March Against Child Labour built a worldwide movement of civil society, trade union and teacher organisations and children themselves, mobilising unprecedented international support of millions of people. Without the presence of Global March partners in over 140 countries constantly and vigorously pressing governments to ratify and implement convention 182 and No. 138 on the minimum age of employment, such significant for the fight against child labour could not have been sustained.
On this day in 2010, the World Day serves as a reminder that there are still 215 million children globally who are suffering from the exploitation of their labour. Out of these, 115 million are found in the worst forms of child labour, amounting to 1 child in 7 worldwide. In 2006, the ILO’s member States pledged to eliminate all worst forms of child labour in the world by 2016 – at present, we are not on target to achieve this goal. Taking this challenge into account, Kailash Satyarthi, Global March Chair, launched the following call for action by all stakeholders in the fight against child labour:
“It is time for us to declare war on the existence of child labour. It is time for the international community to state quite clearly that enough is enough and a strong political commitment must emerge to combat child labour once and for all. As with other wars, we need to establish effective strategic partnerships, including with those countries where child labour is prevalent. The time is right to do this and if we fail now, the consequences are too devastating to contemplate.”
As part of this call to declare war on child labour, Mr Satyarthi outlined a 6-point strategy to revitalise the global plan of action to eliminate child labour. This must include:
- building and strengthening strategic partnerships among and between governments;
- strengthening the worldwide movement against child labour through financial and technical investment;
- focusing on the emergence of a new child labour diplomacy, including reinforcing the leadership role of emerging economies, such as India, Brazil, South Africa and others and South-South cooperation;
- strengthening cooperation between intergovernmental organisations, including the international financial institutions;
- enhancing financial support for education for all;
- strengthening corporate social responsibility not only of multinationals, but of all business entities at different supply chain levels, including in domestic markets of developing countries.
World Day is being commemorated globally, regionally, nationally and locally by Global March partners. Events around the world will involve governments, employers and workers and their organisations, UN and civil society organisations, media events, awareness-raising campaigns, cultural performances and other similar public events. The theme of these events will maintain this year’s focus on the 1Goal campaign for education, linked into the 2010 FIFA Football World Cup, as well as the outcome document from the Global Child Labour Conference in The Hague, the Netherlands, 10-11 May 2010, called “Roadmap 2016”.
On the eve of the World Day in India, elected child leaders from around the country are releasing a national roadmap for the elimination of the child labour in line with Roadmap 2016 through a high-level inter-faith panel on “Religion and Child Labour”. In Bangladesh, there will be rallies, human chains, art competitions, discussions with child labourers, parents and employers on child labour and an open concert by children on the theme “Stop Worst Forms of Child Labor and Ensure Education for All Children”. In Chile, reinforcing the link between the World Day and the World Cup, high-profile mini-football matches were organised. In the USA, the Departments of State and Labor, in partnership with the American Federation of Teachers, the No Limits Foundation and the International Labor Rights Forum, organised a high-level discussion on child labour.
“If more countries do not provide free, compulsory education, then more children will be drawn into exploitation. Without education, no country’s future is secured as a large number of its children would be uneducated”, said Zama and Maphefo Khosa, two former child labourers from South Africa on the eve of the World Cup.
For more information on World Day events, reports, background and other materials, see: www.globalmarch.org/events/wdacl2010.html