ILO urges India to safeguard children from falling into child labour

NEW DELHI :
In the view of increasing unemployment and loss of income to the families due to coronavirus outbreak, International Labour Organisation (ILO) on Friday asked India to take guard against more children falling into child labour. The international body has also urged the Asia’s third largest economy to target poverty alleviation measures and ensure universal social security.

“Covid-19 has resulted in stress for children and a potential income loss to families forcing children to help them earn livelihood. Consequently, children engaged in work may not return back to schools when they open up,” Dagmar Walter, a director at ILO said Friday during a webinar organized jointly by ILO and the union labour ministry.

Walter said along with poverty alleviation measures, India needs to offer universal social security to its citizens, ensure children go back to school post covid-19 disruptions, and engage in social dialogue between all stakeholders while implementing laws.

Labour minister Santosh Gangwar said covid-19 has created a crisis for all and has the “potential to push children to child labour”. The minister said India will devise a concrete mechanism to eradicate child labour from the country, and for achieving the goal the central government, states and societies will have to work collectively.

“We collectively will have to create such a plan which can be implemented in an Indian context and get the desired result. The covid-19 pandemic has created a big challenge in front of the world and India…its negative impact on the economy has also created the possibilities of an increase in child labour. We have to stay alert and work towards eradicating it,” Gangwar said at the webinar to mark the World Day against Child Labour.

The United Nations called for putting an end to child labour in all forms by 2025. “The last two decades have seen significant strides in the fight against child labour. But the COVID-19 pandemic poses very real risks of backtracking. Positive trends may fall falt, and child labour may worsen, especially in places where it has remained resistant to change. These risks require urgent action to prevent and mitigate the tolls the pandemic takes on children and their families,” ILO and UNICEF said in a note Friday.

In the note ILO said that falling parental income in countries including India will have a negative impact on eradication of child labour. “The phenomenon of working more when wages fall has been documented elsewhere, including in India,” ILO said. “Parental unemployment due to economic shocks in Brazil has led children to step in to provide temporary support…similar effects have been documented in Guatemala, India, Mexico and the United Republic of Tanzania,” the global body ad

The joint note by ILO and Unicef said most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions to reduce the spread of covid-19 but warmed that “children of legal working age may drop out of school and enter the labour market with limited education and skills”.

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