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World Day Against Child Labour: Child labour rises to 160 million

This year’s World Day Against Child Labour focuses on action taken for the 2021 International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour. While the global community just celebrated the universal ratification of the ILO’s Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, we are facing the reverse of years of progress in tackling the problem due to the COVID-19 crisis.

On the occasion of World Day Against Child Labour, the ILO and UNICEF released a new global report on estimates and trends on child labour (2016-2020), under the aegis of Alliance 8.7 -- “Child Labour: Global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward”.

According to the report, the number of children in child labour, which has risen to 160 million worldwide – an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years - with millions more are at risk due to the impacts of COVID-19. The report warns that progress to end child labour has stalled for the first time in two decades, reversing the previous downward trend that saw child labour fall by 94 million between 2000 and 2016.

Additional economic shocks and school closures caused by COVID-19 mean that children already in child labour may be working longer hours or under worsening conditions, while many more may be forced into the worst forms of child labour due to job and income losses among vulnerable families. The report warns that globally 9 million additional children are at risk of being pushed into child labour by the end of 2022 as a result of the pandemic.

Children in child labour are at risk of physical and mental harm. Child labour compromises children’s education, restricting their rights and limiting their future opportunities, and leads to vicious inter-generational cycles of poverty and child labour.