International Labour Organization Director General Guy Ryder has said social protection is one of the most powerful measures to prevent child labour in Bangladesh by providing families with income security in difficult times.
In his statement for World Day Against Child Labour 2022, the ILO director-general also warns the choices made by governments now will make or break the lives of millions of children.
According to ILO, at the beginning of 2020 1 in 10 children aged 5 and over were involved in child labour worldwide – equating to an estimated 160 million children, or 63 million girls and 97 million boys.
Despite significant progress in reducing child labour in the past two decades, most recent data shows that global progress on this measure has stalled since 2016.
In addition, these trends were observed prior to the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, which has put millions more children at risk of child labour.
It is estimated that without mitigation strategies, the number of children in child labour could rise by 8.9 million by the end of 2022, due to higher poverty and increased vulnerability.
The child labour survey carried out by the Bangladesh government in collaboration with ILO in 2013 found that 1.7 million children work as child labourers in Bangladesh.
A new survey report is expected to be published in 2022.
The ILO welcomed Bangladesh government's commitment to create a child labour free society and hails the government for ratifying the ILO Convention no 138 on minimum age for entry into work in March 2022.
ILO recognises this as a milestone towards advancing decent work and social justice in Bangladesh.
The country signed the ILO's Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention No 182 in 2001, which calls for the prohibition and elimination of all worst forms of child labour, including slavery, forced labour, trafficking and hazardous work, both in law and in practice.
Accordingly, the country prohibits hazardous work for children below 18.
A recent ILO-UNICEF report published on the event of the Global Conference on elimination of child labour in May 2022, urges that strong social protection systems are necessary for the reduction and eventual elimination of child labour by reducing family poverty risks and vulnerability, supporting livelihoods and school enrolment amongst other things, government social protection systems are essential in the fight to eradicate and prevent child labour.
ILO Country Director in Bangladesh, Tuomo Poutiainen encouraged the government to introduce social protection programme for these unfortunate children and their families to break the curse of child labour from society.
He stressed on the need of aligning the age of compulsory school education with that of entry into the workforce, which is essential to eliminate child labour as well as to prepare our children to become future productive workforce.