The 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour kicks off on Sunday at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
The conference will be hosted in Africa for the first time in collaborative effort between the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the Department of Employment and Labour.
The conference is expected to attract over 4000 delegate, half of whom will attend in person, including heads of state, ministers, academic institutions, and civil society organisations.
Anti-child labour conference beefing up security ahead of the opening session:
According to the ILO more than 160-million children globally are labourers, while over half of them range between the ages of five and eleven.
Government says although there are laws that protect children against child labour and forced labour, members of the public need to increase their efforts of reporting such incidents.
Labour Attaché at the South African Permanent Mission in Switzerland, Siyabonga Hadebe explains.
“It’s not easy to deal with this problem because we rely on members of the public to come forward and report on these issues, but when our labour inspectors do go out out and visit companies and other areas, they do find children but that is only a small number. At the moment it doesn’t even look like many people are aware of the law itself that says children under the age of 15 are not supposed to work those children are supposed to be at school.”
The ILO describes the term “child labour” as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, their dignity, and that is harmful to their physical and mental development.
It further notes that the agriculture sector accounts for 70% of children in child labour. Evans Cupido is a Project Manager at Stronger2gether.
“The statistics I think is touching the surface. I think whenever there is a demand for labour any sector is subject to the risk of child labour, so this will include, the manufacturing sector agriculture, fisheries. What we’ve seen in the South African context is that the worst forms of labour we tend to find is for commercial, sexual exploitation which is often linked to broader syndicates.”
The 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour is consistent with Sustainable Development Goal 8.7, which calls for the abolition of all forms of child labour by 2025 and the abolition of forced labour, modern slavery, and human trafficking by 2030.