World Day against Child Labour marks the need to tackle the worst forms of exploitation
UNICEF: Educating girls is one key to the solution
Geneva /Dhaka, 11 June 2009 – On the tenth anniversary of the World Day against Child Labour, UNICEF joins its partners in calling for action to tackle the underlying poverty that leads to child labour. Improving access to quality education, particularly for girls in poor and rural settings, is a key part of an effective overall approach.
Cultural and socioeconomic factors influence a family’s decision to send girls to school. Girls, especially as they reach puberty, may also be limited by other factors such as the safety of the journey to school or the lack of adequate water and sanitation facilities at schools.
In Bangladesh, 1.3 million children are involved in hazardous work and 7.4 million are economically active. Research indicates that children are involved in more than four hundred types of work, with forty-seven of these identified as 'hazardous'. “A comprehensive programme for basic education and livelihood skills should be undertaken to address the needs of working children throughout the country. Only then, we will be able to address the child labour issue effectively” said Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh in an event held today at the Bureau of Non-formal Education to observe the day. The meeting was also attended by Nurul Islam Nahid, Minister for Education and Mohammed Motahar Hossain, State Minister for Primary and Mass Education.
UNICEF in partnership with the Government of Bangladesh is working to provide basic education to more than 160,000 urban working children in Bangladesh in six divisional cities through Hard to Reach Urban Working Children project where 60% of the students are girls. After the completion of the 40 months of basic education course, 5,000 children will also receive livelihood skills training through the project.
According to the International Labour Organization, the worst forms of child labour include practices such as selling or trafficking children, the forced recruitment of child soldiers, using or offering children for prostitution or the production of pornography, and using, procuring or offering children for illicit activities or any other activities likely to harm children.
The most recent ILO global report on child labour states that in 2004 there were 126 million children engaged in hazardous work that endangers the child’s safety, health and development. It is the most vulnerable such as girls, orphans, ethnic and minority groups and street children – the majority of the out-of-school population – who are exploited.
A partnership created in 2000 between UNICEF, IKEA and the Government of India to address the root causes of child labour in the carpet belt of India. As a result, a programme was implemented in 500 villages in the Eastern Uttar Pradesh region of India that made it possible for 80,000 out-of-school children to get an education. Since then, IKEA and UNICEF have aimed to expand coverage by reaching more villages in the carpet and metal ware regions of Uttar Pradesh and the cotton and cottonseed regions of Andhra Pradesh.
The positive progress made during recent years in boosting access to education and reducing child labour could be derailed by the impact of the current global economic and financial crisis, which poses a threat to further progress. While many countries have reached the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education, in many other countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, primary and secondary school attendance rates continue to be low.
The goal of eliminating gender disparity in both primary and secondary education is also far from being met. UNICEF emphasizes that all children – including girls – have a right to an education. Girls with an education are more likely to avoid poverty and ensure that their own children are educated, helping to avoid future child labour. This year is also the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Note: The figures quoted are from the International Labour Organization