A report by UNICEF showed that “Progress to end child labour has stalled for the first time in twenty years” due to the covid-19 crisis which has caused so many children to be out of school and disrupted economic growth leading to unemployment and poverty pushing children into child labour. Presently, 1 in 10 children are subjected to child labour worldwide, with some forced into hazardous work through trafficking. Child labourers are everywhere; on the streets, in market places, construction sites, factories, mines, serving as child soldiers, domestic helps and even prostitutes. These children are almost always with little or no protection at all against health and safety hazards, abusers and lurking pedophiles, unfavourable working conditions, exploitation of labour, slavery and trafficking.
According to the international labour organization (ILO), The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children. Nearly 1 in 10 children are subjected to child labour worldwide, with some forced into hazardous work through trafficking.
Africa has the highest incidence of child labor in the world. As of 2020, 23.9 percent of children aged 5–17 years in Sub-Saharan Africa were involved in child labor, with the agricultural sector being the largest employer of child labour. 72.1 million African children are estimated to be in child labour and 31.5 million in hazardous work with the leading cause for this being poverty, illiteracy and unemployment. Respondents on this topic argued that while child labour is not to be promoted, due to the rising wave of poverty however, the money earned by the children contributes to the survival of their families and in paying for their education.
Needless to say that the effects of child labour are detrimental to both the child, and the society. Child labor can cause severe physical and emotional injury, as well as death. Slavery and sexual or economic exploitation are possible outcomes. In almost every case, it denies children access to education and health care, limiting their fundamental rights and jeopardizing their futures.
It is sad to note that despite the policies implemented by African governments to combat child labour, along with the creation of awareness on social media and signing of petitions against child labour in various African states, child labour is still on the rise and would probably continue if we do not take the necessary measures to curb it.
Recognizing the underlying cause of child labour and its enormous impact, it’s only important to define practicable solutions to the menace.
In a research by Ehsan Abed, some viable solutions to Child Labour would include
- Provision of Free primary education by the Government, NGOs, Private Individuals and Organizations.
- Creation and implementation of strict labor laws against employing below the minimum age
- Support and donation to NGOs, Initiatives and Campaigns advocating against child labour
- Ethical consumerism, by investigating the companies you trade with and boycotting them if they employ child laborers
- Awareness creation to reorientate the average African on why child labour should not be condoned.
According to UNICEF, child labour increases the vulnearability of children to poverty and exclusion. In the long term, it affects the overall development of the child and the society as a whole. Hence, the above solutions should be seriously considered and implemented to stop the menace of child labour both locally and globally.
Written by Chioma Maduagum, Communication Analyst, Steer Initiative; Reviewed by Olufunmilayo Obadofin, Project Manager, Steer Initiative
About Steer Initiative
Steer is a continent-wide initiative actively identifying marginalized communities and providing them with tailored solutions through collaboration, volunteerism, and participatory partnerships. The initiative focuses on steering access to education, digital training for teachers, skills acquisition for women and young people, and social outreaches to address community challenges and support disaster reliefs. Steer leverages the support of like-minded individuals and civil society organizations who want to stand up for, reach, and empower communities to strengthen societal engagement, to drive equality and social change.