Child labor affects 160 million children worldwide and increases for the first time in 20 years

The International Labor Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have announced that for the first time in 20 years, the number of child victims of child labor has reached 160 million worldwide.

Report on Child Labor: Global Predictions, Trends and Ways to Move Forward 2020, published by two organizations on the occasion of the World Day Against Child Labor, celebrated on June 12, called for measures to combat the practice, which may be exacerbated by the epidemic.

The document highlights that, for the first time in 20 years, the evolution of child labor has “reversed”, in contrast to the downtrend registered between 2000 and 2016, a period where at least 94 million were reduced. From the work of children around the world.

In the last four years, that increase was 7.4 million people, according to a report released on Thursday. By the end of 2022, “about 9 million more children are at risk of being affected by Covid-19” and “this number could rise to 46 million if they do not have access to the necessary social security measures”.

“The new economic crisis and school closures due to Covid-19 could mean that children work long hours or work in worse conditions, while many others may be forced into the worst kind of child labor due to loss of employment and income. In vulnerable families.” , The document warns.

In a statement, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Four reminded that the global fight against child labor and 2020 did not make it easier.

Henrietta emphasized the importance of investing in programs that discourage child labor, at a time when school closures, economic crises and a combination of national budgets could force families to make “very tough decisions.”

“We urge the government and international development banks to prioritize investments in programs that allow children to leave the labor market and return to school, as well as invest in social security programs that prevent families from working. Child-friendly.”

The report also shows a significant increase in the number of children aged 5 to 11 who are working and who are responsible for more than half of all child labor in the world.

He added that the risky work of children aged 5 to 17, work activity that could harm their health, physical safety or cognitive development, has increased by 6.5 million since 2016, now stands at 79 million.

The publication indicates that 70% of child labor cases, equivalent to 112 million children, occur in the agricultural sector, 20% in the case of minors, 31.4 million in services, and 10% in the industry of 16.5 million children.

Child labor (14%) is almost three times higher in rural areas (5%) than in urban areas.

“Approximately 28% of children between the ages of 5 and 11 and 35% of children between the ages of 12 and 14 who work do not attend school,” the report said, adding that there is a high tendency for boys in child labor to reduce this inequality when considering domestic work. .

The ILO’s director general, Guy Ryder, was quoted in the same statement as saying that the new assumptions were “a wake-up call” and called for action to “not endanger a whole new generation of children.”

“Included social security allows families to keep their children in school, even in adverse economic conditions. Increased investment is essential to promote rural development and decent work in the agricultural sector,” Ryder said.

“We are at a critical juncture. The results we have achieved will largely depend on the steps we take,” he said.

The report warns that “child labor compromises children’s education, restricts their rights, limits their future opportunities and contributes to the maintenance of the vicious cycle of poverty.”

In addition to increasing the cost of education and facilitating children’s return to school, the ILO and UNICEF recommend promoting decent work for adults so that families do not have to rely on their children for income at home.

The data, published by the two organizations, is based on data from 106 surveys covering more than 70% of the world’s population between the ages of 5 and 17.

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