Child labour: 108 million children work in agriculture
Worldwide, more than 150 million children are still trapped in child labour, with almost half of them working in hazardous child labour. In a statement released for World Day Against Child Labour, which is celebrated on June 12, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has called on governments, workers and employers to make a final push to end child labour. Over the past years, progress has been made in reducing child labour. Between 2000 and 2016 alone, there was a 38% decrease in child labour globally. However, 152 million children across the globe aged 5 to 17 are still in child labour, working in mines, factories and fields. Child labour is concentrated primarily in agriculture (71% or 108 million children), which includes fishing, forestry, livestock herding and aquaculture, and comprises both subsistence and commercial farming. This is reflected in this year’s slogan for World Day Against Child Labour, “Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams!” Another 17% of child labour takes place in services and 12% in the industrial sector, including mining.
Nearly half of all child labourers, or 73 million children in absolute terms, are in hazardous work that directly endangers their health, safety, and moral development. They are for example using sharp tools or spraying chemicals. The agricultural sector accounts for by far the largest share of hazardous child labour. According to ILO, other sectors are likely to become more relevant in some regions in the future in the face of forces such as climate change displacing families from their farms and into cities. Currently, the relative importance of agriculture is highest in the Africa region and the Europe and Central Asia region, where the sector accounts for 85% and 77% of child labour, respectively.
ILO highlights that we must move much faster if we are to honour our commitment to ending child labour by 2025. UN Member States have committed themselves to the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Target 8.7 of SDG 8 calls for the end of child labour in all its forms by 2025. However, a simple projection of future progress based on the pace of progress achieved during 2012 to 2016 would leave 121 million children still in child labour in 2025, of which 52 million would be in hazardous work. “We need to urgently accelerate the pace of progress,” urges ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. “More coherent action is required, ensuring the availability of quality education, social protection for all, and decent work for parents.