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World Day Against Child Labour, 12 June 2014

© UNICEF Myanmar/2009/Nyaung Oo Than Htay
Girl wades through the garbage dump to find things to recycle, exposing herself to myriad risks

This year, World Day Against Child Labour draws attention to the role of social protection in keeping children out of child labour and removing them from it.  World Day 2014 calls for:

1. Action to introduce, improve and extend social protection, in line with the ILO Recommendation No. 202 on social protection floors.
2. National social security systems that are sensitive to children’s needs and help fighting child labour.
3. Social protection that reaches out to especially vulnerable groups of children.

Child labour in Myanmar is highly visible and part of both rural and urban settings; however, there is currently no verifiable data on how many children are working in Myanmar. Poverty is the main driver for Myanmar children seeking and participating in work, with many families relying on the work of their children to support the household income.  Many working children are unpaid family helpers, carrying out small tasks in farms and agriculture, family businesses or domestic task at home. 

Some children turn to work as many employees offer food, shelter, clothing and sometimes even schooling.

Even where the tasks undertaken by children are not dangerous, work is damaging in that it prevents them from going to school or engaging in play and places them under stress.

While the minimum age for child employment in Myanmar varies across industries, most sectors are able to employ children from age 13.  Children aged 13–15 are permitted to work up to four hours a day if they have a certificate of fitness (as per the Factories Act 1951), while a 15-year-old child can work as an adult. There is currently no single comprehensive legislation in place to protect working children and ensure occupational health and safety.

UNICEF has been working with the Myanmar Government and other partners towards the total elimination of the worst forms of child labour since 2006.  UNICEF is providing technical support to the Department of Social Welfare to redraft the outdated Myanmar Child Law, which will include amendments to the legislative framework related to child labour. In line with international standards, UNICEF advocates for setting the minimum age for admission to employment and work at 14 years. 
At the same time, in order to tackle the underlying causes of child labour, UNICEF strongly advocates for increased investments in the social welfare sector, which is mandated to provide services for the most vulnerable groups of the population.

At this critical time in Myanmar’s history, UNICEF encourages the international community to better resource programmes to reduce child labour in Myanmar.  The World Day Against Child Labour provides an opportunity for the Myanmar government, civil society and others, including schools, youth and women's groups as well as the media, to join in the campaign against child labour.

 

 
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