Public awareness event: ‘Crucial for Pakistan to eliminate child, bonded labour’
ISLAMABAD: Everyday around 115 million children are exposed to hazardous work around the globe, including 15.5 million children who are engaged in domestic work outside their own homes, according to the United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO).
While linking child labour in Pakistan with preferential trade access to the EU, it has been emphasised the need of its elimination, said ILO Pakistan Country Director Francesco d’Ovidio, ‘to become a GSP plus beneficiary, it is crucial that Pakistan eliminates child and bonded labour, especially its worst forms’.
He stated this at a public awareness event for the European Union-funded project Combating Abusive Child Labour (CACL-II) Children are being denied their childhood including opportunities for education and other basic child rights. More than half of these 115.5 million domestic children labourers are engaged in hazardous forms of work, sometimes in exploitative situations of child trafficking – with their lives being endangered on a daily basis. “It is the responsibility of every human being to look after the next generation with care, love and protection so that they will have equal opportunity in the future,” said d’Ovidio.
The event was organised by ILO Pakistan at the Pak-China Friendship Centre Islamabad to launch the research-based visual products on combating child labour. Visual products were produced under the research component of CACL-II by communication and media students of seven different universities across Pakistan. This provided opportunities for students to highlight the fight against child labor by producing video documentaries and short films on child labor including causes, consequences and impact on development issues related to child labour.
Chief guest for the occasion was Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to Pakistan, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark. “The European Union supports the ratification of the ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers and has called on all Member States to ratify this Convention,” emphasised the ambassador. Appreciating the government of Pakistan and ILO’s efforts to combat abusive child labour through the CACL-II project, the EU ambassador added, “The EU will continue to promote improved protection of children and the elimination of the worst forms of child labour in its initiatives—in particular in the UN General Assembly, the Human Rights Council, and the ILO.” By citing the sustainability of project’s outcomes, the EU ambassador also praised the government’s initiative of launching a similar 1.5 million euros programme in Punjab province to replicate good results of CACL-II project.
Federal Secretary of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Abdul Khaliq said, “In the 21st century, it is our duty to address child labour on an urgent basis and secure the rights of every child.” Khaliq added, the CACL-II project set up successful institutional mechanism in all provinces for combating worst forms of child labour. It pilot-tested the district model approach that was instrumental in reducing and gradually eliminating all forms of hazardous child labour from various sectors of Sahiwal district in Punjab and Sukkur district in Sindh. As a result, local employers’ associations of nine sectors have pledged to make their sectors child labour free. Khaliq also praised the initiative by all provincial labour departments to take measures to enact the new law on prohibition of employment of children.
Speaking at the event, UN Resident Coordinator for Pakistan Timo Pakkala explained how child labour is strongly linked with the country’s status on primary education. Pakistan has one of the largest out-of-school populations of children; therefore the goal of eliminating child labour needs to be prioritised equally with the importance of achieving the Millennium Development Goal on education for all in 2015.
Children sang and performed, short films and video documentaries were shown by university students which served to remind the audience that child labour is a scourge on society, a hindrance to poverty reduction and an obstacle to social justice, and must be eliminated worldwide. The event concluded with the distribution of winners’ and appreciation shields to the Mass Communication departments of Bahauddin Zakria University, Fatima Jinnah University, Greenwich University, Islamic International University, Lahore College for Women University, University of Peshawar and University of Sindh.