5The World Day Against Child Labour, which is celebrated on 12 June every year, was launched in 2002 by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to raise awareness and inspire actions to end child labour. The theme for the 2019 World Day Against Child Labour is; Children should not work in fields but on dreams. This assertion, sadly, is not the experience for the millions of children who are forced to work every day to support themselves and their families, sometimes under very hazardous conditions. The ILO data indicates that over 218 million children around the world are forced to work full-time. Child labour robs children of their childhood. It exposes them to situations of abuse, deprives them of leisure and fundamental freedoms, adequate education, and healthcare. Child labour endangers the lives of children and violates their human rights.

States must ensure the protection of the human rights of children as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international human rights instruments. As Nelson Mandela rightly noted, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Below are some facts and figures from the UN website, illustrating the prevalence of child labour in the different regions of the globe.

  • Worldwide 218 million children between 5 and 17 years are in employment.
    Among them, 152 million are victims of child labour; almost half of them, 73 million, work in hazardous child labour.
  • In absolute terms, almost half of child labour (72.1 million) is to be found in Africa; 62.1 million in the Asia and the Pacific; 10.7 million in the Americas; 1.2 million in the Arab States and 5.5 million in Europe and Central Asia.
  • In terms of prevalence, 1 in 5 children in Africa (19.6%) are in child labour, whilst prevalence in other regions is between 3% and 7%: 2.9% in the Arab States (1 in 35 children); 4.1% in Europe and Central Asia (1 in 25); 5.3% in the Americas (1 in 19) and 7.4% in Asia and the Pacific region (1 in 14).
  • Almost half of all 152 million children victims of child labour are aged 5-11 years. 6
    Forty-two million (28%) are 12-14 years old, and 37 million (24%) are 15-17 years old.
  • Hazardous child labour is most prevalent among the 15-17 years old. Nevertheless, up to a fourth of all hazardous child labour (19 million) is done by children less than 12 years old.
  • Among 152 million children in child labour, 88 million are boys, and 64 million are girls.
  • 58% of all children in child labour and 62% of all children in hazardous work are boys. Boys appear to face a greater risk of child labour than girls, but this may also be a reflection of an under-reporting of girls’ work, particularly in domestic child labour.
  • Child labour is concentrated primarily in agriculture (71%), which includes fishing, forestry, livestock herding, and aquaculture, and comprises both subsistence and commercial farming; 17% in Services; and 12% in the Industrial sector, including

Read more:

Convention Concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment:

Learn about the Convention on the Rights of the Child:



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