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World Day Against Child labour 2009


10th Anniversary Celebration in Geneva

There were various events organized by IPEC, Geneva on the celebrations in which the historic moment was re-lived by the core marchers Reyna Aguilar Tacuri, Peru; Cristian Andrés Inzunza Espinoza, Santiago. Chile ; Agbodjan Ablavi Benjamine, Togo; Govind Khanal, South Asia  with  Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson Global March Against Child Labour , Simon Steyne former International Council member and now Chief Programme Support Unit , International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour and 200 other supporters walked the road. GMACL sculpture in front of ILO office echoed again with the slogans  of core marchers, children, supporters and dignitaries with “No more tools in tiny hands we want books we want toys and no more child prostitution children want education” and Global March song. Thousands of school children, dignitaries ILO officers were waiting to welcome the marchers. After the welcome, Ministers briefed about the policies adopted for elimination of child labour and education for all.

Kailash Satyarthi while addressing people talked about the progress made as well stressed on the urgency to work on child labour education issue. He said that all over the world people are celebrating the achievements made in the past 10 years on the issue of child labour and exploitation of children under hazardous conditions. At the same time I am also very proud of various BBA (Bachpan Bachao Andolan) activists who are currently present in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Delhi and working to rescue and free hundreds of children who are victims of child labour, bonded labour and other forms of child exploitation. A few hours back 60 bonded child labourers have been rescued from various parts of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. In the capital city of India i.e. New Delhi   46 children including four girls have been rescued. They have wounds on their legs and hands and bruises all over the body. The youngest girl rescued is of 12 years named Mamta , she  had been working  in a footwear factory from 6 o’clock in the morning till 1o’clock in the night, although she herself was barefoot. This is not a story of one child and one country but of concern for around 10 crores of such young girls trapped in child labour due to poverty and illiteracy all over the world.

I am also glad to share that in the past 8-10 years the number of child labourers has decreased from 250 million to 220 million.  In addition to this the number of children deprived of education has also decreased from 130 million to 70 million. But these figures are not satisfactory, being working for the past 30 years as a child activist; I would like to say that for me it is not important to know how many children have been rescued but how many more such children are still to be freed from exploitation. When God’s most lovable creation i.e. children are in such pitiable conditions of child labour, how can people like me sleep?

I think that four things that are responsible for such a plight of the innocent children all around the world are First one is delay in urgent action on part of the government officials, the second one is lack of political will, the third one is lack of coherence between the international and national laws and forth and the last one is lack of coherence between the various agencies, organizations, ministries and departments.
 
In the last 10 years we have failed to instill the feeling to end child labour both at the societal as well as government level. We are still working   with old methods of tackling the issue. Bureaucracy, lack of political will and corruption specially scene in rescuing children and rehabilitation of freed bonded child labourers is pushing us away from our vision. The lack of transparency and accountability also slows down the process.

There are many international and national laws made for the elimination of child labour but we are lacking a political will and honesty to implement these laws. The problem of child labour still prevails all  over the world  because on one hand there is no proper system to protect rights of  child , prohibition of child labour and provisions  to  provide free and  good  quality education to the children  and on the other hand  governments are not releasing enough funds for the development process which becomes a major hindrance in the welfare of the child.

There is no coordination between the different policies at international level  as well as at the national level for example according to the Education for All goal UNESCO has to work and build policies to send all children of the world to school till 2015 but on the other hand World Bank has there rules and regulations to control the money spent on the development issue for the government like restrictions in increasing the salaries of teachers and appointing new teachers. The lack of coherence could also be seen at the national level as well e.g the Education Ministry would always talk about sending all children to school but on other hand they would not implement and form strict laws to eliminate child labour so that they are free from exploitation and are able to go to school.

There is also no coordination between the different ministries and departments. For example, if a child labour is released then the procedures for his identification, his rescue, rehabilitation and education are done by number of ministries. Some of the ministries and departments involved are police, education, home ministry, labour ministry, women welfare ministry, etc. etc. There is no coordination between them and are clueless about the objectives and functioning of their partner ministry and department. Because of this confusion, the child is one who suffers.

 In this time of globalization and liberalization our responsibility towards the rights of the children increases. Especially at the time of economic slowdown it’s essential that importance of education should not be ignored. As without good education societal and economical development is not possible. Without elimination of child labour providing education to all is not possible in the same way without literate youth, elimination of poverty is not possible. Therefore we require a mass movement in which civil societies government bodies, teacher union , trade union and industrialist should come together to work in convergence.

I truly believe that this change is possible and we all would be able to eliminate the heinous crime of child labour from this planet in our life time. 

In the evening Kailash Satyarthi launched a bus with Marche Mondiale, Switzerland at the city center.  This awareness bus would cover each and every corner of the city spreading awareness against child labour till 20th November. Many interactive sessions were organised by Marche Mondiale in schools and colleges where core marchers spoke about their life and child rights.

International Labour Conference 98th Session, Geneva, 2009

After his speech there was interface dialogue with students and Dignitaries. Students present in the programme asked questions on the issue of child labour.

A special session of the International Labour Conference was organized to mark the World Day and the tenth anniversary of ILO Convention No. 182 concerning the Worst Forms of Child Labour. Speakers were ILO Director-General Juan Somavia; U.S. Senator Tom Harkin; Mr. J.W. Botha, employers group spokesperson in the Committee on Child Labour of the 1999 International Labour Conference; and Sir Roy Trotman, workers group spokesperson in the Committee on Child Labour of the 1999 International Labour Conference.

Message by Juan Somavia Director-General of the International Labour Office on the occasion of World Day against Child Labour 12 June 2009

Today we focus on girls trapped in child labour: toiling in the fields from sunrise to sunset; unseen in domestic work; or living and working on the streets of the world. Like all children they have the right to be free from child labour, to have an education, to realize their potential.

Yet discrimination, the often hidden nature of their work and the burden of household responsibility, commonly conspire heavily against girls.

On this World Day, we also mark the 10th anniversary of the adoption of ILO Convention No. 182 on the elimination of the worst forms of child labour. We are now only 14 ratifications short of universal ratification by the ILO’s 183 member States. It is a remarkable expression of national commitment and intent. This Convention also calls on us to pay attention to the special situation of girls.

The ILO estimates that some 100 million girls are in child labour, with 53 million in hazardous work. Too many suffer multiple handicaps: the shackles of poverty that deprive them of options; traditions that devalue girls and deny them their rights; and education systems and practices that may effectively perpetuate their exclusion.

Investing in girls’ education and training is an investment in equality and social progress – a girl with an education is better armed to break the cycle of child labour and poverty.

Experience shows that this brings immediate benefits for families. Communities, societies and economies also benefit. Yet women still account for almost two thirds of the 16 per cent of the world’s illiterate population – the legacy of persistent structures of inequality and discrimination.

As the present crisis takes its toll, many women and men are being pushed into poverty or deeper into poverty. Hard won progress towards the elimination of child labour is threatened and girls are more vulnerable. We must be vigilant.

Policy choices for recovery and beyond will reflect the nature of the commitment to all the world’s children. The values, principles and rights that have been so widely endorsed must be given expression through national and international action to support societies where:

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the rights of girls and boys are equally respected;

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survival strategies do not depend on the labour of children; and

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basic education is accessible to all and choice is not a matter of deciding between educating a boy or a girl.

Sustainable responses call for integrated strategies that also promote jobs for parents and social protection for individuals and families. This is the approach of the Decent Work Agenda.

On this World Day, let us re-commit, individually and collectively, to discharging our responsibility for giving girls a chance and ensuring decent lives for all children.

Statement by Mr. Tom HARKIN (Senator, United States)

Provisional Record Ninth sitting Friday, 12 June 2009 Presidents: Mr Allam and Mr Zellhoefer CELEBRATION OF THE WORLD DAY AGAINST CHILD LABOUR AND THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF CONVENTION NO. 182

The ILO is the oldest agency of the United Nations, a leading advocate for social justice around the world, and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. I am honoured to be with you to share not only the ILOs 90th anniversary, but also the 75th anniversary of the United States joining the ILO, and the 10th anniversary of the adoption of ILO Convention No. 182. At the outset, I want to thank Director General Somavia for his inspirational leadership over the last ten years. I thank him, in particular, for his passionate commitment to the cause Of eliminating the worst forms of child labour around the world.

I also want to thank all of you – representatives of labour ministries and proud and committed members of trade unions and employer organizations – for your leadership back home and collectively here in this world parliament of labour.

Thanks to your tripartite leadership, ten years ago this month this body adopted ILO Convention No. 182 concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour. Thanks to your commitment, it was the most rapidly ratified ILO Convention in history.

In adopting Convention No. 182, the ILO declared that abusive and exploitative child labour is one of those uniquely offensive practices – like slavery – that is never acceptable and never excusable. And you set forth the great goal of eliminating this scourge from the face of the Earth.

You were clear about what is meant by abusive and exploitative labour. It is not kids helping out the family, growing vegetables or fruits or working on a small farm with their family. It is not wholesome, after school work, which, I dare say, a lot of us did when we were younger. ILO Convention No. 182 addresses the horror of children who are chained to looms or who toil in factories where furnace temperatures exceed 800 degrees Celsius; children who work unprotected under slave like conditions; children forced to sell illegal drugs, forced into prostitution, forced into armed conflict.

These children endure long hours of hard labour, with little or no pay. They are denied an education and deprived of normal growth and development. They are children stripped of their childhood.

I was first introduced to this issue almost 20 years ago, by a man by the name of Kailash Satyarthi. He opened my eyes to the tragedy of child slaves in the carpet industry – children who were beaten and starved and forced to live without love or hope. Mr Satyarthis extraordinary activism inspired my own work – through legislation in the United States Congress and through public and private initiatives – to fight the worst forms of child labour. So again, I thank you,

Kailash, for all that you have done and for setting my feet on this path to do whatever I could. My own investigations of abusive and exploitative child labour have taken me to ILO projects span ning the globe from West Africa to Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Nepal and many others. This problem is too big for a committed advocate on the ground; much less for a United States Senator. And that is why the adoption of ILO Convention No. 182 was such a landmark event. I was proud to be here in Geneva, along with President Bill Clinton, on 17 June 1999, for that event. And I was proud to introduce to the United States Senate, just this week, a resolution commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Convention, and I want you to know that it passed the United States Senate on Tuesday with a unanimous vote.

ILO Convention No. 182 put the full power and prestige of the ILO and the United Nations into the fight against abusive and exploitative child labour.

Between the years 2000 and 2004, the number of child labourers worldwide fell by 11 per cent. By any measure, that is great progress.

However, I did not come here today to bestow victory laurels. I have come here today with a warning: powerful global forces threaten to take us backwards and to drag a new generation of children into abusive and exploitative labour.

For the first time since the 1930s, we are experiencing a global recession – a downturn that has been especially hard on people in developing countries. Unemployment is surging and prices for basic food staples are skyrocketing. These dire circumstances provide a fertile breeding ground for the worst forms of child labour. Desperate people resort to desperate and degrading measures just to survive, including forcing children into abusive labour. So, I have come to Geneva to urge this body to redouble its commitment to eradicating the exploitation of children.

I applaud the Director General for his Report to this Conference: Tackling the global jobs crisis: Recovery through decent work policies. I also applaud the ILO’s special focus this year. As the Di rector General just said, there are now over 100 million girls who are exploited in child labour. But words and warnings are not enough, we need deeds and action.

If we are against child labour, then we must be for decent jobs for parents. We must be for greater access to school for every child. We must be for basic social supports so that vulnerable families are not obliged to relinquish their children to exploitation.

So, as you continue to lead on this fundamental issue, I want to quickly outline a five point plan I would like to submit to you for global action.

First, we must provide access to quality education. School fees and related costs effectively close the schoolhouse door to millions of poor kids. And, in many places, especially in rural areas, there simply are not any schools. Wealthy nations must spend less on their militaries and more on education in developing countries. We need fewer bombs and more books. We need fewer troops and more teachers. Second, forging partnerships. I urge the ILO to work with and take some leadership from the Inter national Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to ensure that loans are linked to pledges by governments to increase access to schools and to maintain social safety nets for the poor. I also urge the ILO to continue reaching out to sister organizations within the United Nations to develop joint strategies for improving education and fighting poverty. But I say again, no more IMF loans, no more IMF restructuring, no more World Bank loans un less they are done in accordance with the country pledging that they are going to make education more available to every poor kid in their country.

Third, sharing best practices. I encourage member States to embrace proven programmes, such as Brazil’s Bolsa familia initiative. Under Bolsa familia, poor families in Brazil are given a stipend by the Government of US$35 a month in return for a commitment to keeping their children in school and taking them for regular health checkups. Brazil has created a brilliant model and I congratulate the representatives here from Brazil. But we ought to emulate it. We should follow their lead on this.

Fourth, increasing resources for the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC). IPEC has been enormously successful in providing technical assistance to end child labour and getting kids into schools. In the United States Senate, I secured the initial funding for this Programme in 1995, and I have succeeded in greatly increasing my Government’s contribution to IPEC in the years since. Since 1995, the United States has provided more than US$377 million, contributing to 155 projects in 73 countries. As a direct result, more than 800,000 children have been rescued from the worst forms of child labour.

IPEC is an outstanding programme. In response to the worldwide recession, it is time for other governments to dramatically increase their funding for IPEC.

And I want to take a pause here to introduce the person who really does all the work on this. Now, I do not know how this is going to come across in translation, but one of my favourite stories is one that is true. It was told by Will Rogers. Will Rogers was a satirist in the early part of the twentieth century in the United States who was always poking fun at politicians. After the First World War, there was a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. It was a hot July day and the troops all had their uniforms on and they were fainting as they marched. Sitting in the stands were all the politicians and the generals and the admirals. Will Rogers looked at this and he said, “It seems to me that if we wanted to honour the troops, we would let the troops sit in the stands and make the politicians and the generals march by.” That is my way of now introducing the troop who has really done so much to make sure that we have got the money for IPEC, who keeps up to date on all this. I have a lot of duties and responsibilities but I put a high priority on this. I could not do it without Rosemary Gutierez, who is the person who gets the job done.

Fifth, we must amplify the voice of tripartism. I applaud all of the efforts of employers and workers organizations to fight child labour. But I challenge you to do more. We must have more robust and proactive engagement by businesses and trade unions.

Quite simply, businesses can offer a demand side solution to this problem. If businesses ensure that all their supply chains are child labour free, this will make a huge difference and, as I have said to so many businesses, it can be used as a positive marketing tool for the business entity. Just like Walmart, they can actually use that as a way of increasing market share by saying, “See, none of our products are made by child labour”challenge my friends in the trade union movement to speak and act even more forcefully in opposing the worst forms of child labour. Trade unions have always been outspoken advocates for human and civil rights. Well, there is no more pressing human and civil rights issue right now than ending the exploitation and virtual enslavement of children in the workplace. So, ladies and gentlemen, across the globe this is a time of testing. And what is being tested, under the stress of economic crisis, is our commitment to our values and our mutual solidarity, our determination to work together in this great cause of ending the worst forms of child labour.

I believe that we can and will pass this test. You have already shifted the boundaries of the debate. In the span of a decade you have moved the world from denial to awareness to action.

Now let us move from action to abolition: the end of abusive child labour once and for all. I would like to close by sharing a letter from a young child labourer whose life was transformed by an IPEC project in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

“They call me El Abuelo because I am the oldest of six siblings”, he wrote. “Since I was five, I have been to the dump every day to work for money or to find food. One day I was coming back and heard some children laughing and singing. I got closer to discover many of my garbage picking friends in side. They told me that they were in a programme called Espacios para Crecer (Spaces to Grow). They were learning reading and writing. The next day, without telling my grandma, I left the dump early and I went to the school. I have been there every day since. I have learned to value myself and others, and love my family and community. I learned to read. Neither my father nor mother knew how to read, so that made me a big hero. I earned stars in maths and started writing, and now I cannot stop. If I want to be somebody in the future I have to study. I do not want to grow up in the dump. I want to be a teacher and teach others everything that has been taught to me.” Ladies and gentlemen, every child deserves espacios para crecer. (Every child deserves spaces to grow.)

Dr Martin Luther King, Jr famously said that, “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.” And that is true. But I would add that it does not bend all by itself. It bends because of the actions of great, progressive organizations like the ILO. It bends because of the actions of people of goodwill – like all of you in this hall – who are changing the world, one community, one village, one child at a time.

In the first decade since the adoption of Convention No. 182, acting together, we have made great progress in the fight against the worst forms of child labour.

So things are changing. And I can tell you, things are changing in my country. Those of you who may have been to Washington before, I can tell you it may look the same, but it is not. It is not, because we have a dynamic, progressive, new President of the United States who gets it and understands it. President Obama served with me on our labour committee and helped us in everything we could do to provide funds for these programmes. He gets it. And he understands that we have to make great changes. And so now I can say, for the first time in a long time, I have a friend in the White House. And I can say, for the first time in a long time, so do you.

So thank you again Director General Somavia for your outstanding global leadership on this issue and on so many issues of human rights and social and economic justice. And through you I thank all of you in this hall and all members of the ILO for what you are doing every day. Let us make it our goal, within the next decade, to finish the job. And of course, with the United States in these kinds of meetings and speeches, by echoing our President, “Yes we can!”

WDACL in Geneva. Global March Against Child Labour

IUF has marched with former bonded and child labourers, representatives of unions, NGOs and ILO officers on June 12 in Geneva to stop child labour, an event organised by Global March Against Child Labour. The messages the Global March participants wanted the World to hear were:

Stop, stop Child Labour!

We want education!

No more tools in tiny hands - we want books, we want toys!

Go, go – Global March! 

The march has started from ILO’s Global March against Child Labour sculpture and marched down to the Place des Nations, where the march participants have been welcomed by children from Geneva local schools.