The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has declared 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor. The member States commitments under the resolution is to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor.
In today’s modern times, child labor continues to be a major and one of the oldest problems in our society. Experts say child labor evolved from working in agriculture or small handicraft workshops to being forced into work in factories in urban settlements as a result of industrial revolution. According to the Industrial Psychiatry Journal, children are very profitable assets, as their pay was “very low”, were less likely to strike and were easily manipulated. Socioeconomic disparities and lack of access to education are among the contributing factors to child labor. It has to be noted that child labor “prevents physical, intellectual and emotional development” in children.
India has a active child labor workforce, with reports stating 56.4% of children aged 5 to 14 work in agriculture and 33.1% work in industry settings. Research shows that Indian children are forced into labor to pay family debt and to earn money. Moreover, not putting a child means the family would not have enough income to sustain their living. And caste also plays a role with discrimination and cultural biases against girls as factors of child labor. The children are sometimes forced to work in hazardous environments, being forced into commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, or forcibly recruited or kidnapped to be part of terrorist groups. The Industrial Psychiatry Journal highlights that child labor is very common in developing countries, affecting 211 million children. Asia makes up the highest child employment rate, followed by Africa and Latin America.
With 2021 earmarked, Beach Andrews, Chief of the ILO’s Fundamentals Principles and Rights at Work Branch said 152 million children across the world are still in child labor. “We need to scale up action further, and teh decision by the General Assembly to declare 2021 the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor will be a great help in focusing attention on the millions of girls and boys still toiling in the fields, in the mines and factories.”
Martin Garcia Moritan, Argentina’s representative to the UN said they hope to make progress towards a world in which no child is subjected to child labor or exploitation and a world where decent work for all will be a reality.