Gilgit-Baltistan Child Labour Survey Report Launched
GB First in the Country to Publish Report of the Largest Ever Child-Focused Survey Conducted with Support from UNICEF
Gilgit: October 27, 2021 – The Gilgit-Baltistan Child Labour Survey (GBCLS) Report 2018-19 was launched here today by the Chief Minister, Mr. Khalid Khursheed Khan. The survey conducted in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to provide authentic data about the living conditions of children, which in turn, will help the Government to address key issues pertaining to fundamental rights of children in Gilgit Baltistan (GB).
As part of the nationwide Child Labor Survey being conducted in all provinces and territories of the country, GBCLS Report is the first to be published in Pakistan. It is also the largest survey conducted in GB, with a representative sample of 7,032 households from all 10 districts representing nearly 400, 000 children between the ages of 5 to17, living across urban and rural areas of the region.
“Government of Gilgit Baltistan is sternly committed to protect basic rights of every child and to ensure access of every child to basic education, health, social & mental wellbeing and more as protected under the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and other United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child,” said Khalid Khursheed Khan, Chief Minister GB.“ The Government of GB has already invoked, ‘Prohibition of Employment of Children Act, 2019’ and the capacity of the Department of Labour is being enhanced to ensure strict compliance of the Act.”
The CM applauded technical support of UNICEF and the efforts of P&DD GB to be the first to complete the survey despite the challenging conditions due to unique and rough geographical terrain, widespread population, harsh weather and above all in absence of Bureau of statistics in GB.
He expressed his concern about alarmingly high prevalence of the rate of child labor in GB which is 13 percent and even touches 28 percent in some districts, keeping in view the strong family value system and peculiar culture in GB.
“30 percent children of school going age are out of school. It is a gigantic task to confront this,” he added.
The CM expressed hope that the survey would be a huge leap forward towards evidence-based planning and policy making in this remote region of Pakistan.
The GBCLS Report will help decision makers to formulate well informed policies to eliminate the menace of child labour in its core form the consequences of economic exploitation of children on their educational, health, mental health and social well-being. It’s our national duty to protect the fundamental rights of a child, enshrined in the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child, which Pakistan has ratified in 1990.
The GBCLS report shows that the child labour prevalence in the province stands at 13.1 percent, with 1 in 7 children is working. Thus, an estimated 50,000 children in GB are involved in child labour. The data reveals that many children work in hazardous conditions and are almost twice as likely to report mental health problems.
The Survey also highlights that almost 30 per cent of children aged 5-17 in GB, do not attend school. Amongst those who attend, there is gender disparity with 88 percent boys and 77 percent girls.
“Every child has the right to be protected from harm, exploitation and abuse,” said Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan. “Children should be provided access to learning opportunities – as opposed to being forced to engage in exploitative economic activities - to live with dignity and reach their full potential. This target can only be achieved if no child is left behind – no matter how difficult and challenging the circumstances.”
“The commitment shown by the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan, in particular, Planning & Development Department GB, in conducting the Child Labour Survey and being the first to launch the Report, is highly commendable. UNICEF is committed to support the Government in identifying, addressing and resolving issues related to child rights,” she added.
Besides providing key data about the status of children in the province, the GBCLS also suggests policy recommendations.
The Report recommends that since child labour is a complex issue, it is imperative to adapt a coordinated policy response, focusing education, social protection, labour markets, and legal standards and regulations.
It highlights that around 14.8 percent of students are neither in school nor working. These children are particularly vulnerable to becoming engaged in child labour. The Report suggests that it is important to understand why these children do not attend school, especially as schools in public sector are providing free of cost education in GB.
The survey responses also suggest that parents of those not in school often perceive school to be inaccessible and expensive. Therefore, informing people of the value of education and facilities provided by the government may help ensure that these children get enrolled and remain in school.
UNICEF has been providing technical assistance to all provincial and territorial governments since 2016 to ensure that child labour survey is conducted using an international methodology through a fully digital platform ensuring accountability, transparency, and quality.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org