Addis Ababa — The International Labor Organization, ILO, says the target of eliminating the worst forms of child labour will not be met by 2016, even though the global number of child labourers was reduced by one-third between 2000 and 2012. A newly released ILO report states that 168 million minors worldwide are still being forced to engage in child labour.
The study says the reduction of child labour is not going fast enough and that more action is needed.
Eleven percent of the world's children are being forced to engage in child labour, with more than half doing work that endangers their health, safety and moral development.
The director of the ILO office in Ethiopia, George Okutho, said a multi-faceted policy response is needed to further decrease the number of child labourers.
"We need to integrate child labour issues with issues of social protection, income generating capacity for households and also broader economic policy, legislation, education and labor market policies," said Okutho.
While the largest number of child labourers are in Asia, with 77.7 million, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest incidence, with more than one in five children engaged in the practice. The agricultural sector accounts for the highest number of child labourers, followed by the service sector.
"In Asia also in many other parts much of child labour remains hidden," explained Simrin Singh, an ILO specialist on child labour in the Asia Pacific. "Certain forms of child labour are not well captured - such as child domestic work, children in child
domestic labour because they are hidden from public eyesight."
Singh said positive factors have supported the improvement, including better government policy and awareness, adding that Indonesia, the Philippines, as well as India and China have taken steps to implement significant social protection plans.
The ILO report also points to positive trends noting a reduction in the total number of child labourers by one-third, from 246 million to 168 million, between 2000 and 2012.
George Okutho said the most significant progress was made between 2008 and 2012, despite the global economic crisis. He points to poverty reduction as an important factor.
"One way of preventing child labour is also to address the question of poverty. Child labour is very much related to poverty. Because children need to work to support their families in one way or another," said Okutho.
Children between the ages of 5 and 17 doing work that adversely affects their physical and mental abilities are considered to be child labourers.
Several years ago, the 189 member states of the ILO set the year 2016 as the target for eliminating the worst forms of child labour.
That goal, according to the organization's latest report, will not be met.