- Today is the World Day Against Child Labour. The UN has declared 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour. More than ever, child labour is a pressing concern in need of urgent attention of the international community. Without immediate action, the sustainable development goal (target 8.7) of eliminating all forms of child labour by 2025 will be beyond reach.
- The ILO estimates that 160 million children are in child labour, often at the expense of their health and education. Almost half of them (79 million) are in hazardous child labour, affecting their safety, health or morals. 70% of all child labour (112 million) takes place in agriculture. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased unemployment, poverty and eroded livelihoods of hundreds of millions of agricultural and rural households. Without mitigation measures, the number of children in child labour could rise from 160 million in 2020 to 168.9 million by the end of 2022.
- To compensate for the resulting income losses and labour shortages, many farms make more use of family workers. While understandable from a poor family’s perspective, children exposed to long working hours (e.g., herding cattle), occupational hazards (e.g., from chemical pesticides), and not being able to attend school, will be harmed in terms of their health and development. This will have lasting consequences for their future opportunities in life.
- Child labour in agriculture is a cause of poverty, but also perpetuates poverty. Without adequate education, nutrition, and health, today’s children trapped in child labour will be much less likely to find decent work and income opportunities when they become adults. Adoption of better agricultural technologies and practices for the development of sustainable food systems will require well-trained and productive farmers and agricultural workers. Hence, ending child labour in agriculture is also a prerequisite to achieve the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and, in particular, for meeting SDG2 of ending hunger and malnutrition through sustainable agriculture and agri-food systems.
- The International Partnership for Cooperation on Child Labour in Agriculture (IPCCLA) reiterates its commitment towards the elimination of all forms of child labour in agriculture. IPCCLA Partners are stepping up efforts to raise awareness about the problem and call upon agricultural stakeholders to join hands in efforts that will effectively address the root causes of child labour in agriculture.
- The IPCCLA calls on all governments, farmer and producer organizations, private and public agri-food businesses, development banks, civil society organizations, youth organizations, employers’ organizations, trade unions and other stakeholders, to join hands to:
- IPCCLA commits to providing continuous technical assistance and facilitating dialogue and cooperation among governments and agri-food system stakeholders to accelerate action towards the eradication of child labour in agriculture. There are 112 million reasons and less than 5 years left to do so.
- promote investments in inclusive and sustainable agri-food value chains to generate more decent income and employment opportunities for rural communities, including women and children of working age 15-17;
- develop capacities to ensure agri-businesses and food companies adhere to the principles for responsible investments in agriculture and agri-food systems (CFS-RAI), especially “principle 2” which calls for the abolition of child labour;
- enhance good business practices, transparency and traceability related to child labour in agriculture along agri-food value chains;
- safely re-open schools while incentivizing school attendance for all girls and boys;
- ensure free access to quality education for all;
- develop strategies and practices to address and adopt alternatives to hazardous work in agriculture;
- strengthen farmer and producer organizations to help improve productivity growth of poor family farmers, as a vehicle preventing the use of child labour in agriculture;
- promote freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining in order to secure safe work and living wages for agricultural workers, so they can lift themselves and their children out of poverty and child labour.
7. IPCCLA commits to providing continuous technical assistance and facilitating dialogue and cooperation among governments and agri-food system stakeholders to accelerate action towards the eradication of child labour in agriculture. There are 112 million reasons and less than 5 years left to do so.
This statement is further supported by the Global March Against Child Labour.