Lusaka, 12 June 2019: To mark the World Day Against Child Labour, Panos Institute Southern Africa calls on communities, schools, the private sector, traditional leaders, government agencies, the media and other stakeholders to work together to arrest child labour which is rampant in Southern Africa.
The World Day Against Child Labour is commemorated annually on 12th June. This year’s commemoration is under the theme: Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams! The theme is relevant and timely especially in Southern Africa where children form a significant fraction of the labour force, especially in the agriculture sector which is the biggest source of livelihood for the majority of citizens in the region.
Panos views child labour as one of the major setbacks to the realisation of children’s goals, as it denies them access to opportunities for personal and professional development. In most rural communities it is almost normal to see children going to work in the field before going to school, and after they return to school, or not going to school altogether to work in the fields.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a total of 152 million children are victims of child labour worldwide. Half of that number, 73 million children aged between 5 and 17 years, work in hazardous child labour. The ILO figures further show that the majority of child labourers in the whole world are in Africa, with the continent accounting for 72 million in child labour. This is of great concern to Panos. Although child labour occurs in almost every sector, seven out of every ten child labourers are in agriculture.
Panos reiterates that child labour is wrong and harmful, especially to the children. Child labour is a gross violation of children’s rights, as it has gross and far reaching physical and emotional effects on the children. We endorse the World Day Against Child Labour theme that children should not work in the fields, but they should be supported to work on their dreams. It is not possible for children to dream and pursue those dreams in an environment that undermines their very being.
To reduce and eventually eliminate child labour requires organised and collaborative interventions from different stakeholders. Panos is aware that the causes of child labour are spread across an array of social, cultural and economic factors. Panos is currently working with various stakeholders to advance the protection of children from abusive practices such as child labour. Our interventions include mobilising different stakeholders at community level, sensitising them on the negative effects of child labour and other negative practice, sensitising them on the role they can play in addressing it, and building their capacity to meaningfully play that role.
Lilian Saka Kiefer
Executive Director, Panos Institute Southern Africa,