Millions more children risk being pushed into child labour as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and this could lead to the first rise in child labour after 20 years of progress, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UNICEF warned on Friday, which is also the World Day against Child Labour.
In a brief titled COVID-19 and Child Labour: A time of crisis, a time to act, the organisations warned that although child labour has decreased by 94 million since 2000, those gains are now at risk. Global estimates in 2017 showed that 152 million children were in child labour worldwide.
According to the brief, COVID-19 could result in a rise in poverty and therefore an increase in child labour as households use every available means to survive. Some studies show that a one percentage point rise in poverty leads to at least a 0.7% increase in child labour in certain countries.
In the video below is a discussion on child labour:
The report warns that evidence is gradually mounting that child labour is rising as schools close during the pandemic. Temporary school closures are currently affecting more than 1 billion learners in over 130 countries.
Even when classes restart, some parents may no longer be able to afford to send their children to school. Also at risk is gender equality – with girls particularly vulnerable to exploitation in agriculture and domestic work.
The brief proposes that governments ensure more comprehensive social protection, easier access to credit for poor households, as well as promote decent work for adults, and work on measures to get children back into school, including the elimination of school fees, and more resources for labour inspections and law enforcement.