Now more than ever #SinTrabajoInfantil

12 de June de 2020

A new and better normal must include immediate, decisive and large-scale actions to confront the damages that are directly or indirectly causing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Day Against Child Labor, commemorated by governments, employers 'and workers' organizations, institutions and society in general, has a particularity this year. Today we receive June 12 in the midst of an unprecedented global health crisis, which has highlighted the high level of inequality and vulnerability in which many populations find themselves.

However, the current situation also presents an opportunity to rethink our actions and generate sustainable positive changes. Therefore, it is a time to reflect on the reality of the 10.5 million children and adolescents who work in the region, of which 6.3 million are in hazardous work. It is a key moment for us as societies to act accordingly and in which the political will is necessary to move towards the achievement of target 8.7 of the 2030 Agenda.

"Now more than ever #SinTrabajoInfantil" is the message from Latin America and the Caribbean to emphasize the urgency of including children and adolescents in immediate, decisive and large-scale actions that are redesigned and executed in the countries for the management and recovery during and after the health crisis.

The impact of COVID-19 on families in the region is serious, especially for those who do not have access to any social protection system. Many families have lost or are at risk of losing their livelihoods, even at high risk of entering or worsening poverty. 

The ILO and ECLAC present in the framework of the World Day Against Child Labor, a joint analysis entitled "The COVID19 pandemic could increase child labor in Latin America and the Caribbean . "

Find it here .

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the social and economic crisis as a result of the pandemic will increase the vulnerability of children and adolescents. Factors such as the reduction in GDP, the increase in informal employment and the closure of schools multiply the probability of an increase in child labor in the region.

According to ILO estimates, unemployment and underemployment will increase, which could cause many families to see child labor as an immediate subsistence strategy to face the crisis. On the one hand, children and adolescents who were not at risk of child labor would be; They could even fall into dangerous jobs. On the other hand, the already harmful conditions of children and adolescents who are already in child labor, could worsen and expose them to dangerous or, worse still, criminal forms.

In addition, the temporary closure of schools to prevent the spread of the virus has meant that children and adolescents lose a safe space and protection of their rights, as well as the food and nutrition services that in some cases were provided during classes .

Child labor makes children and adolescents today and tomorrow more vulnerable people in times of crisis.

In the current context, girls and adolescents face an additional risk by assuming a greater workload at home or for third parties, which may include more hours of domestic and care work, and could gradually push them to drop out of their studies. This situation also increases their vulnerability to mistreatment, exploitation and physical abuse. 

Migrant and refugee children and adolescents are also part of the most vulnerable populations. Discrimination and social exclusion deepened by the crisis and limited access to protection, education and health services, complicate their situation and could lead them to resort to child labor.

As a proposal, the ILO and ECLAC argue that regional efforts should focus on three interdependent strategic aspects, centered on people, so as not to leave anyone behind. The first refers to effective prevention to avoid early insertion into child labor and the loss or lack of access to jobs in protected conditions for adolescents who have reached the legal age to work. The second, to identify and locate working children and adolescents. Lastly, to reestablish the rights of working minors and their families.

Ensuring children's rights during and after the crisis is essential to build a new and better normal. The year 2021, declared the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor, calls us to formulate innovative, differential and sustainable responses that contribute to accelerating the reduction of child labor and hazardous child labor in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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