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Child Labour persistence is as a result of discriminatory world order: Kailash Satyarthi

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Children Rights Advocate and 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Kailash Satyarthi has lambasted the rich nations of the world, saying their discriminatory attitude towards poor nations was at the heart of the persistence of the problem, which is rife in Africa. 

Speaking during the opening plenary of the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour at the Durban International Convention Centre, Satyarthi has urged rich nations to play their role in fighting the increasing global dilemma. 

“You cannot blame Africa. It is happening because of the discriminatory world order. It is this still the age-old racial discriminatory [issue]. We cannot end child labour without ending child labour in Africa.” 

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) describes the child labour as work that “deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development” while Unesco describes working children as child labourers when they are either too young to work or are involved in hazardous activities that may compromise their physical, mental, social or educational development. 

The 5th conference’s aim, the first to be held in Africa, is to share good practice and to push for accelerated action towards elimination of child labour. It also aims to assess progress made towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) regarding child labour. 

Satyarthi says he refused to believe the world has no resources to eliminate the problem. 

“I don’t want to lose the hope. We are the people and the time is now. Let us march for the dignity of every human being. Let us march.” 

Regional Vice-President of the International Organization of Employers and Executive Director of the Federation of Kenya Employers, Jacqueline Mugo, says without addressing the root causes of child labour, which she says are poverty and informality, among other, the fight against the quandary will never be won. 

She says the numbers of children in child labour are on the increase. 

“The number of victims of child labour is increasing. Our responsibility is to do all we can to reverse this trend. This is not an easy task as we continue to wrestle with the impact of COVID-19, face growing geopolitical tensions, and historic price increases due to the Russian war against Ukraine.”   

According to the ILO more than 160 million children are labourers while more than 106 million of that figure is out of school.  

In June 2021, ILO and Unicef released a report which stated that the number of children in child labour had increased by 8.4 million children in the preceding four years – with millions more at risk due to the impacts of COVID-19. 

Mugo says, “These challenges are not insurmountable. But, so far, we have not shown the necessary will or pursued the comprehensive collective actions required to address them.” 

Saulos Klaus Chilima. Deputy President of the Republic of Malawi says, two million children are in child labour in Malawi.  

The conference is expected to grapple with issues of ending child labour until Friday as the world prepares for the global awareness day for child labour on 12 June.  

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