States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. (art. 32.1 UNCRC)
Child labour and access to education is a serious concern in a number of the countries in which DCI works. DCI believes that any initiatives to end child labour must address its root causes, such as poverty, and must emphasize the right to education.
Around the world, growing gaps between the rich and poor in recent decades have forced millions of young children out of school and into work. The International Labor Organization estimates that 215 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 currently work under conditions that are considered illegal, hazardous, or extremely exploitative. Underage children work at all sorts of jobs around the world, usually because they and their families are extremely poor. Large numbers of children work in commercial agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, mining, and domestic service. Some children work in illicit activities like the drug trade and prostitution or other traumatic activities such as serving as soldiers.
In the past, DCI promoted a Campaign for Inclusive Education to address the issue entitled No Kids without Education: We can all make a Difference. The goal of the Campaign was to guarantee that 100% of school-aged working children and adolescents effectively exercise their right to a complete and quality education.
Many DCI national sections are active in fighting child labour as a form of exploitation of children, especially when it is preventing them from enjoying their fundamental rights.
Recently, DCI, together with several other INGOs, is involved in the lobbying for the ratification of the ILO Convention 189, concerning decent work for domestic workers. This instrument is not only a breakthrough in labour rights, but a critical new tool for child protection, with the potential to improve the lives of an estimated 15 million children engaged in domestic work, largely girls, around the world. They often work 12 or more hours a day, seven days a week, cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, and caring for their employer’s children. Forced labour and trafficking is not uncommon, and their isolation in private homes leaves them at particular risk of exploitation and violence, including sexual abuse. Evidence shows that they are even less likely than other working children to attend school.
DCI is asking for a general commitment of all goverments to make all efforts to end child labour, break cycles of poverty, and provide working children with better conditions and a brighter future.