TODAY -

12th June is World Day against Child Labour
Let’s act on our commitments and end child labour

Ranjan K Baruah *



Every child has rights to live and get all the human rights. Though children are born with rights, millions of children are denied their rights and deprived of everything they need to grow healthy and strong – because of their place of birth or their family of origin; because of their race, ethnicity, or gender; or because they live in poverty or with a disability. We could see children on the streets and out of school even in our country.

We should know that the Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a "child" as a person below the age of 18, unless the relevant laws recognize an earlier age of majority.

Today, throughout the world, around 218 million children work, many full-time. More than half of them are exposed to the worst forms of child labour such as work in hazardous environments, slavery, or other forms of forced labour, illicit activities including drug trafficking and prostitution, as well as involvement in armed conflict.

Not all work done by children should be classified as child labour that is to be targeted for elimination. Children’s or adolescents’ participation in work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling is generally regarded as being something positive.

This includes activities such as helping their parents around the home, assisting in a family business or earning pocket money outside school hours and during school holidays. These kinds of activities contribute to children’s development and to the welfare of their families; they provide them with skills and experience, and help to prepare them to be productive members of society during their adult life.

Child labour is work carried out to the detriment and endangerment of a child, in violation of international law and national legislation. It either deprives children of schooling or requires them to assume the dual burden of schooling and work.

The worst forms of child labour involves children being enslaved, separated from their families, exposed to serious hazards and illnesses and/or left to fend for themselves on the streets of large cities – often at a very early age.

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, employers and workers organizations, 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.

This year’s (2024) theme is “Let’s act on our commitments: End Child Labour!”

Previous Year’s Themes:

2023: Social Justice for All. End Child Labour!
2022: Universal Social Protection to End Child Labour
2021: Act now: end child labour!
2020: COVID-19: Protect Children from Child Labour, now more than ever!
2019: Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams!
2018: Generation Safe & Healthy
2017: In conflicts and disasters, protect children from child labour
2016: End child labour in supply chains - It's everyone's business!
2015: NO to child labour – YES to quality education!

The positive news is that since 2000, for nearly two decades, the world had been making steady progress in reducing child labour. Today, 160 million children are still engaged in child labour. That is almost one in ten children worldwide.

Africa ranks highest among regions both in the percentage of children in child labour — one-fifth — and the absolute number of children in child labour — 72 million. Asia and the Pacific ranks second highest in both these measures — 7% of all children and 62 million in absolute terms are in child labour in this region.

We are aware that target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals calls on the global community to "take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms."

Let us ensure that every child gets their human rights and no one needs to be part of child labour. There are different programmes and initiatives by government against child labour. Right to Education in India guarantees education for all children.

In spite of government programmes and activities of different civil society organisations, there are still children whom we see working sometime and this needs to be a history soon. Child labour can be a history if all of us contribute positively against child labour.


(With direct inputs from UN publications)


* Ranjan K Baruah wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be contacted at bkranjan(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on June 13 2024.



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