This year marks the 10th anniversary of the World Day Against Child Labour, sanctioned by the International Labour Organisation’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (ILO-IPEC).  Each year on 12 June, governments, organisations, companies and individuals the world over need to unite to highlight the plight of child labourers.

Child labour is a massive global problem – latest estimates show that about 215 million children (127 million boys and 88 million girls) are involved in child labour, with more than half involved in its worst forms.  These children do not have the opportunity to go to school, let alone the luxury of carefree play.  The are often undernourished and not properly cared for.  More than half work in hazardous environments and are exposed to inhuman experiences – slavery and forced labour, illicit activities including drug trafficking and prostitution, as well as involvement in armed conflict.

In a nutshell, these children are denied their chance to be children, to play, to discover, to learn, to be care free. Instead they are exposed to physical, psychological or moral suffering that can cause long term damage in their lives.

Not having the opportunity to gain an education and acquire marketable skills means they are never prepared to meaningfully contribute as adults, thus denying them the opportunity to lift themselves and their families out of the cycle of poverty.

The main responsibilities associated with childhood should be to play, to discover, to learn, to be care free.
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Looking on the positive side – the situation is improving and it appears a future without child labour is at last within reach..

As part of a Roadmap towards the eradication of child labour, adopted at the 2010 Global Child Labour Conference, the ILO’s member states have set the target for eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labour by 2016. Significant progress is being made worldwide in combating child labour. The latest global trends reinforce this message of hope – child labour is declining, with the worst forms declining at the fastest rate.

There is, however, no room for complacency and sustained global effort is needed to keep the momentum going towards the elimination of child labour.

Find out what is happening in your country, join a local or online initiative, and contribute your one hour against child labour.

To quote ILO Director-General Juan Somavia:

“There is no room for complacency when 215 million children are still labouring to survive and more than half of these are exposed to the worst forms of child labour, including slavery and involvement in armed conflict. We cannot allow the eradication of child labour to slip down the development agenda — all countries should be striving to achieve this target, individually and collectively”

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