Millions more children risk being pushed into child labour as a result of the Covid 19 crisis, which could lead to the first rise in child labour after 20 years of progress, according to a new brief from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF.
According to 'Covid 19 and Child Labour: A time of crisis to act', child labour decreased by 94 million since 2000, but that gain is now at risk.
Global estimates in 2017 showed that 152 million children were in child labour worldwide.
Children already in child labour may be working longer hours or under worsening conditions, the report says. More of them may be forced into the worst forms of labour, which causes significant harm to their health and safety.
"As the pandemic wreaks havoc on family incomes, without support, many could resort to child labour," said ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder. "Social protection is vital in times of crisis, as it provides assistance to those who are most vulnerable. Integrating child labour concerns across broader policies for education, social protection, justice, labour markets, and international human and labour rights makes a critical difference."
"In times of crisis, child labour becomes a coping mechanism for many families," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. "As poverty rises, schools close and the availability of social services decreases, more children are pushed into the workforce. As we re-imagine the world post-COVID, we need to make sure that children and their families have the tools they need to weather similar storms in the future. Quality education, social protection services and better economic opportunities can be game changers."