Rome (Italy). World Day Against Child Labor is celebrated on 12 June 2022, established in 2002 by the International Labor Organization (ILO), the United Nations agency that promotes social justice and rights at work, with the aim of recalling the attention of civil society, in particular governments, employers, and workers’ organizations, on the urgent need to take measures to put an end to the forms of exploitation of children and adolescents in the world of work.

The theme of the 2022 Day, “Universal social protection to end child labor”, is proposed by the ILO at the conclusion of the V World Conference on Child Labor held in Durban in South Africa in which, on 20 May 2022, the Call for action in Durban on the elimination of child labor was adopted, which proposes a series of “immediate and effective” measures aimed at combating child labor, in particular its root causes, and at relaunching and intensifying prevention activities.

On this day, the ILO calls on governments to increase investment in social protection systems and programs to protect boys and girls from child labor.

Indeed, it is estimated that one in ten children between the ages of 5 and 17 are still engaged in child labor. According to the global estimates on child labor 2020, 160 million children and adolescents were employed, of which half were employed in dangerous jobs; 112 million minors employed in the agricultural sector and the recruitment of child soldiers persisted.

The economic crisis generated by the pandemic, conflicts, and other humanitarian disasters expose more children and adolescents to the risk of labor exploitation. Without taking measures to mitigate the impact of crises, the ILO estimates that child labor could increase by nearly 9 million by the end of 2022.

Social protection is a human right and a means of preventing families from resorting to child labor in times of crisis. Growing poverty is one of the causes that pushes families to send their children to work rather than to school. According to a recent report by the ILO and UNICEF – “The role of social protection in the elimination of child labor: Evidence and implications for policies” (2022) – social protection, in support of families in case of economic or health difficulties, reduces poverty and vulnerability of families, thus decreasing the main factors that push child labor and facilitating schooling.

Through interventions on the education and formation of children and adolescents, including actions to prevent school dropout and child labor, the adoption of measures on access to social protection for all and the implementation of policies to promote decent work for young people and adults, especially those most at risk, will reach the 8.7 goal of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to end child labor in all its forms by 2025.

In the address to the participants in the international conference “Eradicating child labor, building a better future”, held on 19 November 2021, Pope Francis highlighted the importance of combating child labor to protect the present and future of humanity.

“The way we relate to children, the extent to which we respect their innate human dignity and their fundamental rights, express what kind of adults we are and want to be and what kind of society we want to build. (…) Child labor is a denial of the right of children to health, education, harmonious growth, which also includes the possibility of playing and dreaming. This is tragic. A child who cannot dream, who cannot play, cannot grow. It is robbing children of the future and therefore humanity itself. It is a violation of human dignity”.

The Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, in the diversity of contexts in which it is present on the five continents, is committed to guaranteeing human rights and promoting the integral growth of children, adolescents, and young people even in situations of hardship, through works of welcome and educational environments that favor accompaniment and scholastic and professional formation, towards a future of hope for them and their families.

The World Day of Reflection on Child Labor calls upon the Educating Communities of the FMA Institute to prevent and support contexts of hardship in promoting the right to education and respect for the dignity and rights of minors.

“Child labor is robbing children of their future” (Tweet di @Pontifex)


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