World Day Against Child Labour 2008
The focus of the 2008 World Day is “Education: the answer to child labour”. Education is critical for a child’s development and long term earning potential. Children who are forced to work long hours in the fields, are usually unable to attend school and gain an education that could help lift them out of poverty in the future. Girls are particularly disadvantaged as they often undertake household chores following work in the fields. The share of children out of school was at least twice as large in rural areas as in urban areas in 24 of 80 countries analysed and in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, over 80% of out-of-school children live in rural areas. Lower adult literacy rates in rural areas are significant, since on average a child whose mother has no education is twice as likely to be out of school as one whose mother has some education. Poor education does not just undermine an individual’s income, opportunities, and well being, but diminishes the benefits from their rights as citizens and thwarts a country’s labour force, productivity, and capacity to innovate and resolve current and future problems.
World Day Against Child Labour 2007 - Events
A series of events have being jointly organized by FAO, ILO, IFAD and other agencies, to celebrate the World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL) on 12 June 2007. This year’s WDACL focussed on Agriculture and highlighted the magnitude of the social and economic costs of the worst forms of child labour in agriculture and also addressed the necessary remedial action.
The agenda for the day's events at the FAO headquarters can be found here.
Additional resource materials and documents can be downloaded on the right hand side of this page.
Harvest for the Future: Agriculture Without Child Labour
Envision children climbing tall trees to harvest forest products, mixing and handling pesticides without adequate protection, diving deep in oceans to untangle fishing nets and using sharp tools and dangerous machineries. For over 150 million girls and boys worldwide this is a reality. Today the vast majority of the world’s working children are not toiling in factories and sweatshops or working as domestics and street vendors in cities, but are working from sunup to sundown on farms and plantations. Over seventy percent of all child labourers work in agriculture and help produce the food and drink we consume and the fibres and primary agricultural materials we use.
In some of the agricultural work they do, children operate in poor and dangerous conditions, are harshly exploited with little or no pay and deprived of their childhood, adequate education and self-development. A large number of these children are exposed to unsafe and risky working conditions. Many of the jobs they carry out are hazardous - causing physical and mental injuries and sometimes even costing them their lives. In these worst forms of children labour, children are exploited, abused and denied an education, thus compromising their future livelihood.
Did You Know That?
We Need to Act Now
Great progress has been made in many countries in reducing hazardous child labour in other sectors. However, eliminating child labour in agriculture remains a challenge. The large numbers of child workers, the fact that they start work young, their relative invisibility due to poor statistics and informal, family-based work relationships make it difficult to know the true scale of the problem. Furthermore, low family incomes, the absence of schools, the lack of regulation, and ingrained attitudes and perceptions about the roles of children in rural areas are only some of the numerous factors which make child labour in agriculture particularly difficult to tackle and eliminate. Unless a concerted effort is made to reduce agricultural child labour, it will be impossible to achieve the goal of eliminating all the worst forms of child labour by 2016.
The prevalence of child labour in agriculture undermines decent work, sustainable agriculture and food security. Efforts to eliminate child labour must also address its root causes – poverty and food insecurity. While children’s involvement in agriculture may indeed be a normal and useful part of their socialization and development of their self-esteem, waged agricultural workers, farmers and their organizations have vital roles to play in helping to eliminate the worst forms of child labour, to provide quality education for children and better jobs for their parents.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Labor Organization (ILO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Union of Food (IUF), International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and World food Program (WFP) have agreed to work together not only to raise awareness about this problem but also to take concrete steps and actions to tackle the root causes that contribute to and re-enforce the exploitation of children in agriculture.
FAO in Action to Eliminate Child Labour
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) leads international efforts to defeat hunger by helping member nations to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy. Since its founding in 1945, FAO has provided information, knowledge, policy assistance, and a meeting place for nations to help developing countries and countries in transition to improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices and ensure good nutrition for all.
FAO recognizes that the causes of child labour in agriculture are rooted in poverty and that generating alternative income sources for rural households is critical to reduce the need for children to work. Most of FAO’s work has an indirect effect on child labour. FAO reduces the need for children to work in agriculture through livelihoods diversification, enterprise and agri-business development, improved access to land and other livelihoods assets especially for the landless, employment generation programmes, improvement of labour productivity and adult wages, and strengthened participation of smallholders and workers not only in the market economy, but also in policy formulation.
FAO assists member governments to recognise the different needs and constraints that boys and girls face and to eliminate the worst forms of child labour in agriculture through policy and technical assistance, information, research, and good practices related to rural employment and decent work. FAO helps to reduce child labour and improve human health, safety and welfare within particular value chains through the promotion of Good Agricultural Practices. International conventions on the distribution and use of pesticides and programmes on Integrated Production and Pest Management contribute to reducing the risks of child exposure to hazardous pesticides and other chemicals. In HIV/AIDS affected communities, where orphaned and vulnerable children are particularly prone to child labour to compensate for labour deficits, FAO helps to reduce malnutrition, abuse, and sexual exploitation through Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools. Support for rural radio, Education for Rural People, and information and communication technology enable children to develop awareness and build skills to diversify their livelihoods and reduce poverty. FAO studies in fisheries are helping to identify the particular hazards to children working in this sector. Through the International Alliance against Hunger and the Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) Initiative, FAO works closely with other UN Agencies, Ministries of Agriculture and Labour, farmers’ organizations, trade unions, cooperatives, and other civil society organizations to fight hunger, promote decent conditions of employment in agriculture, and enhance rural livelihoods.