World Day Against Child Labour 2022
Theme “Universal Social Protection to End Child Labour”.
To commemorate this year’s International Day Against Child Labour FIDA Nigeria joins the call for increased investment in creating systematic social protection policies and programs which protect the child against all forms of labour.
With the efforts and strategies put in place by UNICEF to fight against Child Labour, in its 2021 report on Children Protection, “the number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide – an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years – with 9 million additional children at risk due to the impact of COVID-19.
It is estimated that without mitigation strategies, the number of children in child labour could rise by 8.9 million in the world by the end of 2022, due to higher poverty and increased vulnerability.
The resultant effects of heightened poverty in our communities on already vulnerable children and their families is inextricably linked with rising levels of homelessness, inadequate nutrition and food insecurity, inadequate childcare, lack of access to health care, unsafe neighbourhoods, and under-resourced schools which forms a basis of child labour.
Although the Nigerian Government has in the past made moderate advancements in efforts to eliminate child labour, it has not been effective enough, even with the hiring by Government of over 400 new labour inspectors and with the enactment of the National Social Behavioural Change Communication Strategy for Elimination of Child Labour in Nigeria (2020–2023).
Children in Nigeria are therefore subjected to the worst forms of child labour which we must collectively aggressively work to stop.
• Children hawking on the streets rather than being in school
• Children forced to work as farm hands, housemaids, quarrying granite, artisanal mining, commercial sexual exploitation, slavery or similar practices
• Child trafficking in all ramifications whether for drug production and sale or other illegal acts, including debt bondage
• Forced recruitment into armed conflict
• Hazardous work that can cause injury or moral corruption.
FIDA calls for suitable and adequate Social Protection measures to therefore be put in place to end Child Labour or indeed strategically reduce child labour in our communities such as:
• Increased access and support to ensure children can attend and stay in well-equipped schools
• Well laid out and properly implemented plans to improve economic growth in communities, particularly at the grassroots levels
• Improved and impactful social support measures to aid the vulnerable, accessible directly by them without too many technicalities
• Low-cost housing accommodation built for the vulnerable in communities to provide shelter at minimal rates
• Government-owned safe spaces/homes for vulnerable children should be increased and made very conducive for the children
• Working diligently to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals
• All key Stakeholders must take their legal and social responsibilities seriously; government must effectively guard the system and promptly punish defaulters to serve as a deterrent
If the above is effectively implemented, it will ensure a protective and conducive environment for the best development of the child
Furthermore, the Child’s Right Act has been adopted by only 25 out of Nigeria’s 36 States, leaving the remaining 11 states in northern Nigeria with legal statutes that do not meet international standards for the prohibition of child trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, and illicit activities. It is important that all states address issues concerning their laws and legal framework
It is additionally worrisome and pertinent to note that the minimum age for work in the Labour Act does not apply to children who are self-employed or working in the informal economy. This calls for an urgent action to be taken to address some of the real challenges faced and the gaps in the system which enable child labour
With the grave security challenges all around the country, children are forced out of their burnt/ destroyed homes and communities; displaced such that they must take refuge in an IDP camp where as young as 8 years of age, a child ends up as head of his home forced to fend to provide for their surviving families. This trend must STOP!
As we mark the World Day Against Child Labour 2022, we stress that the battle to protect that child concerns everyone because children are the leaders of tomorrow, we must deliberately shield and protect, educate and empower our children to be the best they can be
Mrs. Amina Suzanah Agbaje
Country Vice President/National President