The African Union (AU), in collaboration with the International Labor Organization (ILO), launched the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor in Africa with a three-hour virtual event on Wednesday March 31, 2021. The launch provided a platform for Africans and multi-stakeholders to discuss progress and remaining gaps in addressing child labor on the continent.
In Africa, the regional launch of the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor marked a call to move from commitment to action towards achieving the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and target 8.7 of the SDGs.
In a series of interviews, videos and presentations, partners at the forefront of the fight against child labor discussed their individual interventions and their plans for how they intend to contribute to the implementation. implementation of the African Union Plan of Action.
“The African Union’s ten-year action plan is ambitious and achievable. Over 10 years (2020-2030), we will all work together to protect the rights of everyone, including children involved in child labor. It is up to us to build the future of our continent, ”said Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development HE Amira El Fadil.
With one in five African children already working in 2016, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the continent is expected to push more children into child labor. Indeed, it is estimated that an increase of one percentage point in poverty leads to an increase of at least 0.7 percentage point in child labor. The general situation is very worrying for families, employers and workers in Africa.
“We need to protect the rights of children and encourage their return to school. The African Union’s ten-year action plan must be implemented at all levels to foster the development of the continent and protect the rights of children, ”said Guy Ryder, Director-General of the ILO.
The panelists recognized the complexity and scale of the problem in Africa and discussed the different types of solutions, existing or envisaged, ranging from access to quality education for all, access to social protection, access to decent work for adults, extension of coverage of basic services. and awareness.
“Today’s event is a demonstration of the existing political will and real commitment to end child labor in Africa,” said Ms Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, ILO Assistant Director-General. and Regional Director for Africa, who called on governments, social partners and other organizations to allocate the necessary budgets to implement the key political priorities identified.
“It shouldn’t be seen as a cost. It is an investment. An investment in creating a better future for all, ”she continued.
Sharing her experience, Dibou Faye, a child labor activist from Senegal, called on stakeholders to redouble their efforts to tackle child labor in communities for a better future.
“I have been working since I was 7, never went to school and at 13 a husband was chosen for me. Today, children without education, it is a society without evolution; child labor destroys dreams, stifles talent and increases poverty, ”she said.
The event brought together ministers responsible for labor and social protection in Africa, representatives of regional economic commissions, continental bodies such as AU commissions and the Pan-African Parliament.
In addition to the Economic Community of West African States, five countries, including Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco, Ethiopia, Malawi, Cameroon and Rwanda, described a number of interventions and existing institutional mechanisms, programs and milestones, as well as pilot projects.
Discuss how to better approach political dialogue and strengthen existing mechanisms, stakeholders including ILO Director-General Guy Ryder, President of Alliance 8.7. and representatives of UNICEF and FAO as well as Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi stressed the importance of supporting the AU plan of action and called for stronger commitments.
“I ask you today to contribute to the fight against child labor by committing to act this year and beyond,” said Congolese musician Lokua Kuanza.
Members of the donor community presented multiple interventions across Africa along with their projections and pledges for 2021 and beyond. These include ILO projects such as the Clear Cotton Project in Mali and Burkina Faso, funded by the European Union, and Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labor in Supply Chains in Africa (Accel Africa), a project funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The representative of the US Department of Labor presented his long-standing contribution to the elimination of child labor in Africa through a number of national, regional and global projects. The representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency presented his project on child labor in Ghana and his initiative for the elimination of child labor in the cocoa supply chain in West Africa.
Stakeholders and individuals at regional, national and organizational levels were encouraged to engage by identifying concrete actions they will take by December 2021 to help end child labor. The deadline for submitting pledges is May 15, 2021. As part of the 2021 campaign, leaders are invited to document their efforts and progress throughout the year through videos, interviews, blogs and impact stories.
As part of the next steps, the Minister of Labor of the Republic of South Africa, HE Thembelani Thulas Nxesi, announced that the 2022 Global Conference on Child Labor will be held in Africa for the first time and hosted by the South Africa.
For more information on the Ten-Year Plan of Action on the Eradication of Child Labor, Forced Labor, Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery in Africa (2020-2030): Agenda 2063-SDG target 8.7 @: https://bit.ly/3cXDjJz
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