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12 June is the World Day Against Child Labour

The World Day Against Child Labour aims to combat this phenomenon, which affects a quarter of all children worldwide.

Depriving children of their childhood is one of the greatest cruelties. The phenomenon of child labour is still far from being defeated. In fact, 218 million children are forced to work globally, often carrying out dangerous jobs.

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dangerous child labour
74 million children around the world are engaged in dangerous labour activities according to International Labour Organisation (ILO) data. These include, for example, work in mines, in contact with hazardous chemicals and agricultural pesticides or handling dangerous machinery © Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Child labour around the world

In most cases child labour represents a sort of extra to be pooled to the family income, which is required in situations of financial difficulty. The phenomenon occurs mostly in the world’s poorest areas: in fact, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest number of exploited minors.

But it is found even in an industrialised country such as Italy, where about 340,000 children under the age of 16 are forced to work. “The peak of child labour is registered in teenagers during the transition from middle to high school, making Italy one of the European countries with the highest rate of truancy, equal to 18.2 per cent,” Raffaella Milano of Save the Children explains.

child labour street work
Among the worst forms of child labour is street work, when children try to survive by collecting waste or selling things, especially in the streets of Asian, Latin American and African cities © Omar Havana/Getty Images

The World Day against Child Labour

On 12 June the World Day against Child Labour is celebrated worldwide, established by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2002. The day aims to shed light on the problem of child labour, highlighting the need of defeat any form of economic exploitation of children.

Education is key

Past editions have underlined the importance of education, which is key to accessing respectable forms of employment in adulthood. It has been demonstrated that putting girls in the condition to go to school is one of the best investments a country can make for its own development, yet they’re the ones who are usually the first to be forced to work in critical situations. In order to reverse this trend, the ILO asks that quality education is provided to every child, and for more effective national policies in tackling child labour and encouraging education.

world day against child labour education
Quality eduction is key to contrasting child labour © Sean Gallup/Getty Images

For a safe and healthy generation

The theme of the 2019 edition is Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams because seven out of ten of those working under the legal age are employed in agriculture, although this issue affectS every sector. In addition, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the ILO: the World Day Against Child Labour looks back on progress achieved to tackle child labour.

The 2018 edition, together with that of the World Day on Safety and Health at Work held on the 28th of April, highlighted the urgent need to improve safety and health condition for young workers, whilst working to stop child labour. The goal of this joined campaign is to accelerate the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals which include guaranteeing safe labour environments for all workers by 2030 and eliminating all forms of child labour by 2025.

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