World Day Against Child Labour


An Afghan girl works at a brick-making factory in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan. Image: Reuters

Childhood should be one of the most treasured times and memories of a person’s life, however for a large proportion of children, childhood is a time of poverty, exploitation, abuse and forced labour.

Today marks World Day Against Child Labour, an initiative launched in 2002 by the International Labour Initiative (ILO) and it’s a time to bring our awareness to how widespread the problem of forced child labour is.

The most recent global estimates suggest some 120 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are involved in child labour. The problem is particularly adverse in areas of Pakistan and India, with the World Bank citing India as home to the highest number of child labour population in the world – 44 million.

This persistence of child labour is rooted in poverty and lack of decent work for adults, lack of social protection, and a failure to ensure that all children are attending school through to the legal minimum age for admission to employment.

This year’s World Day Against Child Labour focuses on the importance of quality education as a key means of stopping forced labour.

On this year’s World Day Against Child Labour we call for:

  • free, compulsory and quality education for all children at least to the minimum age for admission to employment and action to reach those presently in child labour;
  • new efforts to ensure that national policies on child labour and education are consistent and effective;
  • policies that ensure access to quality education and investment in the teaching profession.

Facts & Figures:

  • There are 168 million children employed in child labour worldwide, according to the International Labour Organisation. The number has declined by one third since 2000, from 246 million.
  • More than half of these children are employed in hazardous work – around 85 million.
  • Child labour includes children who are forced to take part in armed conflict, such as child soldiers and girls taken as “wives” for soldiers and militia members. According to Anti-Slavery International, there are around 300,000 child soldiers involved in over 30 areas of conflict around the world.
  • Child labour among girls fell by 40% since 2000, compared with 25% for boys.
  • Asia and the Pacific still has the largest numbers – almost 78 million or 9.3% of the child population – but Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region with the highest incidence of child labour (59 million, which is over 21%).
  • There are 9.2 million (8.4%) children employed in child labour in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • In Latin America and the Caribbean, there are 13 million (8.8%) children in child labour.
  • Agriculture remains by far the most important sector where child labourers can be found, with around 98 million, or 59%.
  • Child labour includes children who are used by others who profit from them, often through violence, and abuse in prostitution or pornography, illicit activities, such as forced begging, petty theft, and the drug trade.
  • Other forms of forced child labour include working in agriculture, factories, brick kilns, mines or construction, as well as restaurants in tourist environments.

Take Action: Please follow this link to the ILO online brochure which provides tips on how you can take action to help stop forced child labour:

“Music Against Child Labour” Initiative: The Music Against Child Labour Initiative, launched in 2013 by the ILO and some of the world’s greatest musicians, calls on musicians worldwide to dedicate a concert or song to the struggle against child labour.

Music education can empower children, build their skills and, crucially, encourage them to go to school and stay in school. The Initiative’s partners are asking everyone in the world of music to join us in raising awareness about child labour and about the value of music and arts education in combating it.

Join the Initiative by dedicating a concert  and/or dedicating a song  to the campaign.


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