29 June 2014

Tanzania: Time to Make a Real Difference in Protecting Children Against Labour

SOCIAL protection policies, sensitive to children's needs, can make a real difference in eradicating child labour, said the International Labour Organization on the occasion of World Day Against Child Labour.

According to ILO global estimates, 59 million children in Africa - more than one out of every five children aged 5-17 years - are labourers.

A staggering 28.8 million African children are engaged in hazardous labour, which puts them in immediate and very serious danger of irreversible harm and even risk of losing their lives.

"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," said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

World Day Against Child Labour was commemorated on June 12, this year came a few days after the ILO released its World Social Protection Report 2014/15, which shows that many children do not realise their potential.

Minister for Labour and Employment, Ms Gaudensia Kabaka said during activities to mark World Day Against Child Labour in Tanga that, the day provides a spotlight on the rights for children to be protected from child labour and from other violations.

Government has already harmonised the 1996 children development policy and come up with a new one which declare that, child labour is not allowed and calls for its elimination.

"Government has made amendments on Children Development Policy of 1996 and come up with a new one that states child labour is not allowed especially with special emphasis on the Employment Relations Act of 2004 and Labour law of 2009 which prohibit child labour," she said.

ILO Senior Labour Officer, Mr Anthony Rutabanzibwa said at the commemoration that the day serves as a catalyst for the growing worldwide movement against child labour, reflected in the huge number of ratifications of ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour and ILO Convention No. 138 on the minimum age for employment.

Mr Rutabanzibwa said that despite the progress being made globally, the 2016 target set by the international community for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour, as a priority within the global fight for the eradication of all child labour, will not be met.

"To reach that goal soon, we need to accelerate and intensify our efforts substantially. Accelerating the pace of progress requires addressing the root causes of child labour and social protection is a key part of the response," he said.

He said that by protecting children and their families, social protection helps to give all children an equal opportunity to fulfill their potential and live healthy, happy and productive lives.

Underinvestment in children jeopardises their rights and their future, including their right to be protected from child labour, the report said. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to have the highest incidence of child labour, even though there has been a decline there.

For the overall 5-17 years age group, child labourers number almost 77.7 million in Asia and the Pacific. For the same age group, there are 59.0 million child labourers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In relative terms, however, the biggest concern remains the Sub-Saharan Africa region. 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 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.

Despite the recent extension of cash transfer programmes, in the case of Africa, the low proportion of expenditure on child and family benefits is particularly striking, considering the high proportion of children in the total population (children under 15 make up 42 per cent of Africa's population).

Underinvestment in the social protection needs of children is particularly critical in low-income countries, which is likely to have negative effects on the future productivity of these countries' workforce, and their future economic and social development prospects.

Several cash transfer programmes for children and families exist in Africa (e.g. in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa).

In many countries in Africa, behavioural conditions are nominally part of the design of cash transfer programmes, yet are not fully implemented and monitored in practice.

In sub-Saharan Africa, more than a quarter of childbearing women did not receive any antenatal care provided by skilled health personnel; the same is true for one in five women in North Africa.

However, 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.

Integrated development policies are crucial to foster synergies between the provision of cash transfers, access to health and other social services, and public investment.

A number of French-speaking African countries have implemented measures to ensure universal effective access to health care for children and young mothers.

Social protection is a crucial instrument in addressing all forms of poverty. Cash transfer schemes have successfully reduced poverty in Africa. For example, South Africa's non-contributory grants have reduced the poverty gap by more than one-third.

There is also a strong evidence of the positive impacts of social protection on hunger and nutrition.

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.

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