June 12, 2012—More than 215 million children worldwide are involved in child labor, reports the International Labor Organization (ILO). More than half are exposed to slavery, forced labor, armed conflict, drug trafficking, and prostitution. Child labor denies young boys and girls the basic health, education, and childhood to which they are entitled.
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Ten years ago today, the ILO launched “World Day against Child Labor” as a way to create awareness and educate the international community about the exploitation of children through child labor. This year’s theme is “Human Rights and Social Justice: Let’s End Child Labor.” Commemorative events include high-level panels, press conferences, awareness raising campaigns, and cultural performances in more than 50 countries around the world. Participating are governments, employers, UN organizations, NGOs, and others working to eradicate child labor. Additionally, the ILO is publishing a Policy Note titled, “Tackling Child Labor: From Commitment to Action,” that illustrates the steps being taken by ILO member states to address the issue.
“There is no room for complacency when 215 million children are still laboring to survive and more than half of these are exposed to the worst forms of child labor, including slavery and involvement in armed conflict,” said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. “We cannot allow the eradication of child labor to slip down the development agenda—all countries should be striving to achieve this target, individually and collectively.”
Pakistan: Nearly 6 Million Children under 10 Are Child Laborers.
Almost 12 million children, half below the age of 10, are employed as child laborers across Pakistan, and the number is growing. Children are beggars, car washers, and domestic workers, reports the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), a longtime Solidarity Center partner. In an effort to eradicate the most extreme forms of child labor in Pakistan, SPARC is conducting a national campaign during the week of June 11–16.
Unions Fight Child Labor in Palestine.
Poor education, poverty, and unemployment due to decades of occupation have pushed children in Palestine into the streets, where they beg passersby to purchase chewing gum, clothing, and other items. By raising awareness of this humanitarian crisis and pushing for better laws, the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) is part of the fight to end child labor and make sure children can stay in school. PGFTU recently published the stories of two children, Ahmed and Jarrah, in an effort to spread the word.
Powerful Videos Tell the Story of the Fight against Child Labor.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) has developed a series of videos about the struggle to eradicate child labor in Ghana, Argentina, Moldova, and many other countries. The ILO says that unions are in the forefront of the fight, but employers and governments also must play a role.