The latest report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) suggests that the ravaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to push about 8.9 million more children into child labour by 2022.
This was disclosed by the ILO’s representative to Ghana, Akua Ofori Asumadu at a concert organised by the Ghana Employment and Social Protection Programme (GESP) with support from the European Union and other partners to commemorate World Day Against Child Labour.
World Day Against Child Labour is marked on the 12th of June every year to shine the spotlight on the exploitation of children through any form of work that deprives them of their childhood and affects them physically, mentally and socially.
The commemoration of the day falls in line with Target 8.7 of the UN SDG, calling for an end to ll forms of child labour by the end of 2025.
Even though globally a lot of strides have been put in place to end the menace, new statistics show that in Africa, about 92 million children are engaged in child labour.
International Labour Organisation (ILO) representative to Ghana, Akua Ofori Asumadu, said “there are now more children in Sub Saharan Africa than in the rest of the world combined….however the latest estimates indicate that 92 million children, 40 million girls and 52 million boys are in child labour in Africa, at the beginning of 2020, and this is really sad. 41 million children less than half of all of those in child labour were in hazardous child labour”.
She added: “the COVID 19 crisis also threatens to further erode global progress. Unless a lot of mitigation activities are done, COVID 19 is going to exacerbate the problem. It is estimated that a further 8.9 million children will be in child labour by the end of 2022”.
Ambassador of the European Union to Ghana, Diana Aconcia, on her part lauded Ghana’s gains made in eliminating the menace of child labour with series of programs mainly in the education sector. She however called for more work in order to achieve the SDG target.
“It is undeniable that Ghana has made important progress in tackling child labour with successful programmes, many of them on education, with a solid legal framework and adequate strategic planning. Nevertheless, child labour still exists. The complexity of the problem and the multiple root causes require a holistic and most systemic approach and also the mobilization of increased financial resources”, she said.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Country Representative, Anne Claire Dufay, while commending government for re-opening schools despite the COVID 19 pandemic, also urged government to invest in smart, durable, holistic and transformative solutions that protect children’s rights.
According to her, “we would like to invite the government to waive the late birth registration fee to make it easier for families to obtain birth certificate. We also ask the private sector to ensure that their employees are above 18 years of age and we encourage consumers to demand child labour free products. Efforts have been made and we want to commend the government of Ghana for this. In particular, we congratulate the government for the free SHS program and for re-opening schools in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Ghana’s Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah, affirmed the government’s commitment towards eliminating child labour but called for an all hands on deck approach since issues of child labour are fast assuming international dimensions and posing huge threat to economic development.
He said “child labour is everybody’s responsibility”, adding: “It is not just one person’s responsibility”.
“The government on its own has been doing and as you are aware, a lot of opportunities are given to Ghanaian children to school… Issues of child labour, are no longer social issues. They are assuming more and more international dimensions and if we are not very careful, it is going to affect our daily ways of life”.