Working Towards Eradicating Child Labour

large_Insight-largeTomorrow, Ghana will join in commemorating the 2013 World Day Against Child Labour. The annual event would be held in Ghana on the theme: ‘Ghana, Take Action Now! No to Child Labour in Domestic Work.’

The day set aside by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) since 2002, is observed on June 12 every year, to highlight the plight of children, particularly the hundreds of millions of girls and boys throughout the world engaged in work that deprives them of adequate education, health, leisure and basic freedoms.

More than half  of these children are exposed to the worst forms of child labour such as working  in hazardous environments, slavery or other forms of forced labour, illicit activities such as drug trafficking and prostitution, as well as involvement in armed conflict.

The day is,  therefore, intended to serve as a catalyst for a worldwide movement against child labour, to pursue issues that would adequately address the problem across the world.

In Ghana, we are aware that the day has been marked religiously, and for this year, preparations began, with a media launch last Friday, in Accra.

It would be marked with various activities across the country, to create awareness among the citizenry, as well as policy makers and to incorporate child labour issues into their work policies.

What is heartwarming is that as a country, we have  over the years shown a lot of commitment to the fight against child labour by approving a number of ILO conventions such as the Elimination of Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL).
But, according to the ILO, although Ghana has pursued various programmes aimed at reducing the practice, the decline in the number of cases has been very slow.

Mr Stephen McClelland, Chief Technical Advisor, of ILO, in Accra, who addressed the media launch, said research on children in Ghana did estimate that a total of 15.5 million children are engaged in paid and unpaid domestic work in homes of a third party or employer, and these children are found to be exposed to various dangers, rights violations and deprivation of childhood liberties while growing up under restricted and harsh conditions.

Again, he said the 2001 Ghana Child Labour Survey (GCLS 2001) report of the Ghana Statistical Service published in 2003, estimated that 242,000 children are engaged in hazardous child labour and many of them were exploited in the large, and unregulated traditional apprenticeship schemes.

“Although the report did not collect data on many WFCL, there are evidence  of large numbers of children working in areas such as domestic work, manual handling and transportation of heavy loads (Kaya and kayaye activities), commercial sex exploitation, small-scale mining (Galamsey), stone quarrying, fishing and in cash crop agriculture,” he said.

We find the revelations worrying and would like to call on the government to intensify efforts at changing public attitude towards child labour.

As we commemorate the day, the Times would also like to urge the social mobilisation partners such as organised labour, faith-based organisations, as well as the media to join in the fight against child labour to ensure that it is either minimised or eradicated completely.

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