World Day Against Child Labour 2018: Child labour remains endemic across the globe

Child labour remains endemic across the globe. The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) latest figures estimate that 152 million children – 64 million girls and 88 million boys – are subject to child labour globally, accounting for almost one in ten of all children worldwide.

A commentary for the 21st Century International Development programme

Published 12 Jun 2018

Child labour remains endemic across the globe. The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) latest figures estimate that 152 million children – 64 million girls and 88 million boys – are subject to child labour globally, accounting for almost one in ten of all children worldwide.

Nearly half of these children engaged in labour are in hazardous work that directly endangers their health, safety, and development. Children in employment, a broader measure comprising both child labour and permitted forms of employment involving children of legal working age, number 218 million.

Real advances have been made in the fight against child labour. Since the ILO started measuring child labour in 2000, the number of children in hazardous work has fallen by more than half. However, progress has slowed significantly in recent years largely due to declining safety and security.

There is a strong correlation between child labour and situations of conflict and disaster. The sub-Saharan African region, which has been among those most affected by conflict and disaster, has the highest number of children in child labour (72.1 million). The incidence of child labour in countries affected by armed conflict is 77% higher than the global average, while the incidence of hazardous work is 50% higher in countries affected by armed conflict than in the world as a whole.

Our Prosperity Index shows that safety and security have seen a worldwide decline over the last decade. Addressing the causes of instability is essential is we are to tackle child labour and to ensure every child, no matter where they are born, has the opportunities to fulfil their potential.

Tuesday, 12 June is World Day Against Child Labour aimed at focusing attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it.