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UNICEF calls on governments, donors and the private sector to end child labour

NEW YORK, 12 June 2010 - UNICEF is calling for renewed urgency to tackle the world's worst forms of child labour on the 11th World Day against Child Labour with the theme “Go for the Goal. Eliminate Child Labour”.

UNICEF estimates that about 150 million children aged 5-14 years old worldwide are engaged in child labour, which is both a cause and a consequence of poverty, and compromises children’s education and safety.”

“We know that progress against MDG’s in education, poverty, gender and HIV and AIDS are being systematically undermined by child labour and that no single policy will unilaterally end child labour,” said Dr. Susan Bissell, Chief of Child Protection for UNICEF. “Evidence has shown that an effective, coherent response to child labour requires a mix of decent work employment measures, child sensitive social protection systems and the extension of basic services to the most vulnerable.”

Overall figures tend indeed to show that child labour is diminishing worldwide but earlier limited gains in Sub-Saharan Africa have now gone into reverse and the most recent data indicates that the current incidence of 1 child in every 4 involved in child labour-the highest in the world-has worsened. This compares to 1 child in every 8 in Asia Pacific and 1 child in every 10 in Latin America and the Caribbean. The number of children combining work and school has escalated in some regions too by as much as 300 per cent.

But even these figures can be misleading, as migrant children, orphans, trafficked children and, above all girls, are frequently missing from current data sets and surveys which rely upon static household data. We must develop new data collection systems to ensure that these invisible children become visible and are systematically addressed.

At the recent global conference against the Worst Forms of Child labour which took place in The Hague, UNICEF committed itself to focus on developing new data methodologies to capture the invisible work of girls to ensure their visibility to the world.

Such visibility is key, since recent evidence suggests that the food, fuel and economic crises that have shaken the global order have had irreversible impacts upon children’s lives. Child labour – a key household buffer in some countries against economic shocks – has led to more children being propelled from school into labour force earlier and in more hazardous areas than would normally occur.”

While studies show that education for girls is among the best investment a country can make for its development, girls are the first ones to be taken out of school to work for the family in times of hardships. Keeping girls in school has been shown to raise family income, reduce child and maternal mortality and result in lower child marriage and fertility rates.

UNICEF calls upon governments and donors to increase investment in accessible and quality education, and to support the establishment of social protection measures that cover all children. UNICEF also calls upon the private sector to use its potential as agents of social change to ensure that children’s rights are protected in their supply chains.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

For more information, please contact:
Kate Donovan, UNICEF New York, + 1 212 326-7452, kdonovan@unicef.org




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