2021 – International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour
Sheila Pantry OBE
Throughout its 100-year history, the ILO has been working to regulate child labour. One of the first ILO international treaties was in 1919 and set to limit the minimum working age to 14 years old (Convention No 5). During the next few decades, the ILO worked to abolish child labour, with mixed results. It took the ILO almost 55 years to mark its next big success in their fight against child labour.
In 1973, the ILO Convention No 138 established the minimum age for all working children in all sectors, employed or not. The Convention applied rules for all children under the age of 18, but exceptions were possible for various sectors depending on the workload. Only in 1992, after the adaptation of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child in 1989, did the ILO launch an International Program on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), which marked the start of a much-needed mindset change by its Member States.
During the 1990s, governments, employers’ and workers’ organisations identified the eliminations of child labour as a fundamental right at work and because of the worldwide attention and concerns, the “Worst Forms of Child Labour”, ILO Convention (No 182) and Recommendation (No 190) were adopted in 1999. This Convention complemented the Convention No 138 (minimum age) and outlined the agreed international standards. By 2001, two years after the launch of the Convention No 190, 100 Member States had ratified – a unique result in the United Nations history!
Statistics show that in the last 20 years, almost 100 million children have been removed from child labour, however it is still present in today’s world in multiple ways. We are down from 246 million in 2000 to 152 million in 2016; the fight to eliminate child labour has to continue.
Progress across continents is irregular. Today, 152 million children between the age of 5 and 14 are still forced to work in hazardous circumstances. Almost 50% of these children live in Africa, followed by Asia and the Pacific. This means that the other half of these children live in many developed countries and economies in transition (e.g., Eastern Europe). Also, there is a disproportion between girls and boys. Girls are more affected by forced labour than boys. In the sex industry, 99% of the victims are girls and in the others sector 58% are girls – an issue that the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated but joint and decisive action can reverse this trend.
Roughly three quarters of the 152 million children work in agriculture, and half of these children are exposed to physical danger or work in situations dangerous for their health and even lives. These worst forms of child labour include slavery and similar practices, child pornography and prostitution, drug trafficking, to only name a few.
Whatever you can do to help Stop Child Labour in the World – please do it now, visit 2021 – International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.
The aim is to stop child labour by 2025.
Essential tools to keep you up to date are OSHWORLD and OSH UPDATE + FIRE
So, this is where this website OSHWORLD and the electronic services OSH UPDATE + FIRE will help you and your organisation to keep up to date. These services continue to bring you the latest information on Covid-19 and the workplace, health, safety, environment, fire and other subjects such as use of robotics in the workplace that you will find useful in your daily work.
Look at the latest additions to the Diary of Events and you will see plans have been made already worldwide up to late 2021 to have online webinars and training courses, symposiums, and conferences in many places in the world on a wide range of subjects. Don’t forget to budget for these events – make sure that you and your colleagues are up to date with the very latest knowledge – remember that all workplaces and those working in them change, so continue to do your risk assessments.
In these days of tighter budgets perhaps training may be put on the “back-burner” – but think again how you can keep up with the latest techniques and training opportunities.
Remember that even if you cannot attend these many events, speakers and organisers are often willing to share their knowledge. Look at the details – where possible, we add in the web sites of these events so you can request further information. And do let me know if you are organising any events so that I can add them to the Diary.
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It is always good to review health, safety, chemical, fire and environment procedures on a regular basis. It is also important that the practices and systems in the workplace are constantly reviewed and if necessary, improved. This review may also indicate training requirements and updates and re-thinking how systems and services can be improved. This is where the free-of-charge OSHWORLD can help you.
Globally there are continually new titles, news items, new products so remember to look at the News to find the latest information from a number of authoritative sources such as the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, the UK Health and Safety Executive and US NIOSH. Use OSHWORLD as your portal to many hundreds of validated and authoritative web sites which you can find in the Country and Subject links we offer. New subject topics are constantly brought together on web sites, e.g. Covid-19, precarious jobs, well-being, mental health and stress.
This month’s FOCUS article is on UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Annual Science Review 2021.
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Don’t work harder – work smarter! Be ahead of the game.
Are you hoping to have a zero accident, incident-free and healthy year in 2021 in your workplace? Some would argue that this is not possible! But keep on trying!
And with the use of the technologies available do continue to make plans for your campaigns for 2021 and beyond despite the Covid-19 pandemic!