The number of children in child labor has risen to more than 160 million worldwide, an increase of more than 8 million children in the last four years, according to a new report.
Developed jointly between the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), the report states that the findings are “alarming.”
“Global progress against child labour has stalled for the first time since we began producing global estimates two decades ago,” the report states. “In addition, without urgent mitigation measures, the COVID-19 crisis is likely to push millions more children into child labour.”
“These results constitute an important reality check in meeting the international commitment to end child labour by 2025,” the report adds. “If we do not muster the will and resources to act now on an unprecedented scale, the timeline for ending child labour will stretch many years into the future.”
According to the report, nearly one in every 10 children were in child labor globally at the beginning of 2020. This includes 63 million girls and 97 million boys. Almost half of all those in child labor, 79 million, were “in hazardous work that directly endangers their health, safety and moral development.”
Even though the absolute number of children in child labor increased by over 8 million between 2016 and 2020, the percentage of children hasn’t changed. Additionally, “the percentage of children in hazardous work was almost unchanged but rose in absolute terms by 6.5 million children.”
Sub-Saharan Africa is the worst offender regarding child labor, with the report finding that “there are now more children in child labour in sub-Saharan Africa than in the rest of the world combined.”
Perhaps most disheartening, the report predicts that 8.9 million more children will be in child labor at the end of 2022 “as a result of rising poverty driven by the pandemic.”
“The largest share of child labour takes place within families,” the report found. “Seventy-two per cent of all child labour and 83 per cent of child labour among children aged 5 to 11 occurs within families, primarily on family farms or in family microenterprises. Family-based child labour is frequently hazardous despite common perceptions of the family as offering a safer work environment. More than one in four children aged 5 to 11 and nearly half of children aged 12 to 14 in family-based child labour are in work likely to harm their health, safety or morals.”
The ILO has provided estimates of the number of children in child labor every four years since 2000.
According to UNICEF’s website, the organization “works in over 190 countries and territories to save children’s lives, to defend their rights, and to help them fulfil their potential, from early childhood through adolescence.”
In countries like the United States, that have child labor laws, it’s easy to readily forget that the practice exists widely across the globe. Some of it, surely, is due to enslavement, while another part of it is born out of family necessity.
Would you take one moment to pray for the children involved in child labor around the globe? Pray that they may be granted rest and what they need to survive and pray for all governments and organizations working to end the practice.
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