“The Time is Now to End Child Labour Through Education and Peacebuilding”

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Graduate Women International (GWI) and University Women of Europe (UWE) join the international community in marking 2017 World Day against Child Labour and the alarming, merciless impact of conflicts and disasters on child labour. We join those governments, employers and workers organizations, civil society, as well as millions of people from around the world who determinedly strive to eliminate child labour.

Children in conflict zones lead unimaginably horrific lives and GWI joins the global commitment to break the cycle.  Many children caught in child labour situations are drafted as soldiers, others are forced into labour as sex workers, drug dealers and servants. Child labour in conflict zones is widespread and to a large extent invisible. Children in the aftermath of natural or manmade disasters suffer similarly. At the mercy of gangs, children are expected to participate in all manner of illegal activities as they are inculcated into a culture of abuse and violence” says GWI President, Geeta Desai. 

Clearly child labour interferes with children’s education, depriving them of the opportunity to attend school, maintain their health and lead peaceful lives. This is an implausibly disturbing injustice to children and an inequality with maximum possibility for change. GWI recognizes that both boys and girls are equally vulnerable and universally defenceless against child labour (UNICEF 2016). In most regions, girls are as likely as boys to be engaged in child labour:

Percentage of children aged 5 to 14 years engaged in child labour at the time of the survey, by the sex of the child and by region

*Excludes China

Notes: Regional estimates represent data from countries covering at least 50 per cent of the regional population of children aged 5 to 14. Data coverage was insufficient to calculate global estimates by sex and regional estimates by sex for CEE/CIS and South Asia.

Source: UNICEF global databases, 2016, based on DHS, MICS and other nationally representative surveys, 2009-2015.

Yet, let’s make no mistake, girls suffer the shortcomings of child labour more than boys. Girls are at a colossal disadvantage and are at a considerably higher risk to be denied an education, be abducted by child traffickers, and live a life deprived of even the most basic human rights. Education is the agent of change for conflicts and manmade disasters and GWI accepts the challenge to eliminate child labour by 2025.

As graduate women, let’s raise our voices and unite our membership in the global commitment to rid the world of all forms of child labour.  We especially declare our opposition to the reprehensible level of child labour in conflict and disaster zones and ensure our fight continues for girls to have access to education and the normalcy of childhood to the greatest extent possible.

Muhammed 12, works in a brick factory in Najaf, Iraq. He makes 15,000 Iraqi Dinar (about US $13) per day. Photo: UNICEF/UN020426/KhuzaieIn-house

The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. Each year on 12 June, the World Day brings together governments, NGOs, civil society, as well as millions of people from around the world to highlight the plight of child labourers and what can be done to help them. Globally over 1.5 billion people live in countries that are affected by conflict, violence and fragility. At the same time, around 200 million people are affected by disasters every year. A third of them are children. A significant proportion of the 168 million children engaged in child labour live in areas affected by conflict and disaster. The 2017 World Day Against Child Labour focuses on the impact of conflicts and disasters on child labour – United Nations

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