CHILD LABOUR: ILO says social protection essential to help eradicate child labour

[12 June 2014] - 

Well designed social protection policies, sensitive to children’s needs, can make a real difference in the fight to eradicate child labour, said the International Labour Organization on the occasion of World Day Against Child Labour
According to the latest ILO global estimates, the total number of child labourers fell from 215 to 168 million between 2008 and 2012. In order to accelerate the decline in child labour the global community must address its root causes more effectively, the ILO said. 
“There is no secret as to what needs to be done,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. “Social protection, along with universal compulsory, formal, quality education at least up to the minimum age for work, decent work for adults and youth of working age, effective law and strong social dialogue together provide the right response to child labour.” 

Jeopardized potential

World Day Against Child Labour comes a few days after the ILO released its World Social Protection Report 2014/15, which shows that many children do not receive the child and family benefits they need to realize their potential. 
Underinvestment in children jeopardizes their rights and their future, including their right to be protected from child labour, the report said. 
Governments allocate an average 0.4 per cent of GDP to child and family benefits – ranging from 2.2 per cent in Western Europe to 0.2 per cent in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. 
The report builds on evidence presented in the 2013 ILO World Report on Child Labour: Economic vulnerability, social protection and the fight against child labour. According to this earlier report, cash and in-kind child and family benefits, especially when combined with access to education and health services, can be decidedly effective in addressing child labour. 
These cash transfer programmes for children and families have been implemented widely in Latin America, and also exist in other parts of the world. Examples include Brazil’s Bolsa Família programme, the universal child benefit programme in Mongolia and the South African Child Support Grant. Building up social protection systems 

Building up social protection systems

Social protection measures also play a significant role in ending child labour. Pensions, as well as unemployment, maternity, employment injury and disability benefits also help prevent situations where children have to work to supplement inadequate or insecure family incomes or enter child labour due to death, injury, sickness or other sudden income shocks. Yet, worldwide, only 12 per cent of unemployed workers receive unemployment benefits; only 28 per cent of women in employment are protected through maternity benefits, and only 52 per cent of those over retirement age receive a pension. 
Health coverage that ensures access to health care does not only improve people’s health, it also protects households from the risk of falling into poverty due to health costs. Currently, about 40 per cent of total health expenditure is directly shouldered by the sick. 
The ILO Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202) reflects the global consensus on nationally-defined basic social protection guarantees as a basic right for all. It calls on the ILO’s 185 member States to guarantee that all people have, at the very least, essential health care and basic income security throughout their lives. 

Facts and figures

  • 168 million children worldwide are in child labour; 85 million of them are in hazardous work.
  • Since 2000, child labour has declined by one third and progress is accelerating. Between 2008 and 2012, the global number fell from 215 to 168 million.
  • The number of children in hazardous work fell from 115 to 85 million.


Further information

ILO adopts new Protocol to tackle modern forms of forced labour

Read about the campaign urging governments to ratify the Domestic Workers Convention


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