”The day, which is observed on June 12th, is intended to serve as a catalyst for the growing worldwide movement against child labour, reflected in the huge number of ratifications of ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour and ILO Convention No. 138 on the minimum age for employment. The World Day Against Child Labour provides an opportunity to gain further support of individual governments and that of the ILO social partners, civil society and others, including schools, youth and women’s groups as well as the media, in the campaign against child labour.’’
According to statistics by the ILO there are 168 million children worldwide who are working as labourers. According to a child labour expert the figures have improved compared to the last two years when the figures were at 215 million. Looking at these figures we are forced to face the fact that we have made a little improvement in that area. If we consider the fact that most of these children work in hazardous conditions which is detrimental to their health and lives, we will come to the stark realisation that we need to work harder and faster to provide a safe world for our children.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) a document that was endorsed by almost all the countries of the world, heralded with its ratification an unflinching demand to make the world a child friendly place, and make it a requirement that the best interest of the child is guaranteed at all times. However the rights of most of these children are abused almost every day. Many children work in cocoa and tobacco fields, exposing them to hazardous health risks. At the expense of their wellbeing and progress, children are working to feed families around the world, when they should have been in school and developing their mental faculties.
We keep reiterating in the Standard the fact that The Gambia has come a long way in ensuring the child is safe and protected and that his best interest is guarded and guaranteed. This country is a signatory to the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. In 2005 an act was passed which further reinforced these international instruments. The Children’s Act, 2005, was a great achievement for the child rights movement and was a reminder that the government really cares for the well-being of the child.
However in The Gambia, we have also witnessed how children are seen everywhere either selling water and nana mint or they are being used by parents to beg for them. It’s an overt reality that none of us can avoid. It’s apparent on our streets and car parks, and these are children who should be in school and not on the streets wasting their lives away. The government and all relevant stakeholders are called upon to save these children.
It’s our earnest hope that during the celebration of this day, there will be renewed commitment towards the protection of the world’s children from all types of hazardous labour. For a world without healthy and empowered young population will forever wallow in poverty, ignorance and under-development. It is said the young are the future but we shouldn’t forget they are the present too. They are with us and need our protection and promotion if we are to herald and usher in a generation of active citizens who will take the nation to another level in its drive to development, progress and prosperity.]]>