Child labour revived by the Covid-19 crisis

World Day Against Child Labor

In a joint report, the ILO (International Labor Organization) and Unicef warn of the risks of seeing millions more children going to work as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This study on Covid-19 and child labour: a time of crisis, a time to act comes out on the World Day Against Child Labour, which is held every June 12.

More info on World Day Against Child Labor 2020 on ILO’s website

The signal is worsening : for the first time in 20 years, indicators have reversed. While the number of working children has fallen by 94 million since the 2000s, the ILO and UNICEF fear a sudden increase under the combined action of schools closures and the collapse of the world economy that plunged millions of families, deprived of a livelihood, into poverty. ILO calls for a strong international cooperation to fight the impact of this crisis.

The Covid-19 crisis caused an increase in child labor. Credit: Sonali Pal Chaudhury / NurPhoto via AFP

One child out of 10 is forced to work worldwide

“As the pandemic wreaks havoc on family incomes, without support, many could resort to child labour “ said ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder. In times of crisis, children become a variable of adjustment and a coping mechanism for many vulnerable families. Several studies show that a one percentage point rise in poverty leads to at least an increase of 0.7 percent in child labour.

According to pre-pandemic figures published by the ILO, 152 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 - one in ten children worldwide - work, 73 million of whom do hazardous work, making them vulnerable to serious health and safety risks. Almost half of the children concerned come from the African continent and are between 5 and 11 years old.

Three-quarters of them work in the informal economy and the agriculture sector. These children are at risk of working longer hours or taking even more hazardous jobs to support their families. In addition, gender inequalities may increase, with girls particularly vulnerable to exploitation in agriculture and domestic work, the report said.

France is committed to the elimination of child labor

The brief proposes a number of measures to counter the threat of increased child labour:

  1. more comprehensive social protection;
  2. easier access to credit for poor households;
  3. the promotion of decent work for adults;
  4. measures to get children back into school, including the elimination of school fees;
  5. more resources for labour inspections and law enforcement.

As we re-imagine the world post-COVID, protecting children must be at the heart of our concerns. France is committed, being the Chair of Alliance8.7, a platform that brings together a variety of stakeholders to achieve Target 8.7 of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), to eradicate child labor by 2025 and forced labor by 2030. France declared it is willing to go further and faster to eradicate child labor within its own country.

Listen to Chair of Alliance 8.7 Anousheh Karvar’s statement on the Partnership’s response to the COVID19 crisis:

More informations on Alliance 8.7 on their website

In 2021, the 5th World Conference on child labor will take place. France will work to make sure this event is a success.

The United Nations General Assembly made the consensual decision to declare 2021 the international year for the elimination of child labor.

Last updated on: 12 June 2020