What is child labour?
Every child has a right to schooling, clean water, nutrition and a safe living environment.
Child labour is work undertaken by a child that is harmful to them in some way. The labour could be harmful to their health, safety, or ability to have a childhood. Child labour deprives children the right to normal physical and mental development, and often interferes with children’s education.
Roughly 160 million children were subjected to child labour at the beginning of 2020, with 9 million additional children at risk due to the impact of COVID-19. They are everywhere, but invisible, toiling as domestic servants in homes, labouring behind the walls of workshops, hidden from view in plantations.
The consequences are staggering. Child labour can result in extreme bodily and mental harm, and even death. It can lead to slavery and sexual or economic exploitation. And in nearly every case, it cuts children off from schooling and health care, restricting their fundamental rights and threatening their futures.
Nearly 1 in 10 children are subjected to child labour worldwide.
A dream of going back to school
The voice of Yasmeen, a Syrian girl in Lebanon
“I dream about going back to school and not working anymore.” Like thousands of unaccompanied Syrian refugee children in Lebanon, 14-year-old Yasmeen and her younger brother must work to pay for rent and food, while living in appalling conditions at a shelter for refugees.
Yasmeen says “I wake up at 4 a.m. and work for 10 hours for US$6.60.
I come back and do domestic work, cook until sunset and then I go to sleep. Look at my hands from all the work; they are as rough as rocks, my back aches. I have been here for three years, but it feels like one long day.
You have to work, you have to survive and you have to pay rent. Is this a life worth living?”
What can be done?
There are four key aspects involved in tackling child labour:
Laws & Regulation
Governments must pass laws to prevent child labour. Companies must adopt laws preventing children from being involved in manufacturing goods.
Poverty reduction means parents are not forced to send their children to work or sell them to employers in order to survive.
It is critical to improve a child's awareness of their fundamental human rights, as well as to enhance their employment opportunities later in life.
The world must stay informed about the injustices of child labour. We must raise awareness of exploited children and work towards giving them a better future.
Help us give children a proper childhood free from hard labour.
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UNICEF Aotearoa helps save and protect the world's most vulnerable children