(MANILA) – The Philippines launched today a nationwide campaign against child labour. The Batang Malaya: Child labor free Philippines is the country’s response for renewed action towards the global deadline of ending the worst forms of child labour by 2016.
The 2011 Survey on Children of the National Statistics Office (NSO) revealed that of the
29 million Filipino children, aged 5-17 years old, there were roughly about 5.5 million
working children, of which almost 3 million were in hazardous child labour.
Hazardous child labour is defined as being likely to harm children’s health, safety or morals by its nature or circumstances. Children may be directly exposed to obvious work hazards such as sharp tools or poisonous chemicals. Other hazards for child labourers may be less
apparent, such as the risk of abuse or problems resulting from long hours of work. Hazardous work is considered as one of the worst forms of child labour.
Hazardous child labour was higher among boys, with 66.8 per cent as compared to girls with 33.2 per cent. Central Luzon (10.6 per cent), Bicol (10.2 per cent), Western Visayas (8.5 per cent), Northern Mindanao (8.2 per cent) and Central Visayas (7.3 per cent) were the regions with the highest incidence of hazardous child labour.
We have to get to the root of child labour which is linked with poverty and lack of decent and productive work. While we strive to keep children in school and away from child labour, we need to ensure decent and productive work for parents and basic social protection for
families,’ said Director Lawrence Jeff Johnson of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Country Office for the Philippines.
The ILO and the US Department of Labor also supported the past 1995 and 2001 Survey on Children. In 2001, there were 4 million working children, of which 2.4 were in hazardous child labour while in 1995, there were 3.6 million working children, of which 2.2 were in hazardous child labour.
However, previous results were not strictly comparable to the new findings of the NSO. There were revisions and improvements in capturing the overall picture of child labour in the Philippines. The 2011 Survey on Children used terms under Republic Act 9231 on the worst forms of child labour enacted in 2003 and international statistical standards
adopted in 2008.
Although more comprehensive, the survey still cannot estimate children trafficked for work, forced and bonded child labour, commercial sexual exploitation of children and use of children for illicit activities and armed conflict.
“What is crucial now is to tackle and to monitor progress in reducing child labour on a regular basis. One of the recommendations is to conduct the survey every 5 years to immediately find solutions and provide interventions. Results of this survey will be used as targets for interventions both geographically and among specific groups by industry occupations. It is not just the role of the government, employers’ and workers’ organizations, but also local communities since child labour often happen in unregulated sectors,” said Director Johnson.
Globally, there were 215 million children trapped in child labour, 115 million of them were in the worst forms of child labour in 2010. There has been progress in efforts to reduce child labour worldwide. But as the world gets closer to the deadline of ending the worst forms of child labour by 2016, the global pace of reduction is also slowing down. The ILO also warned that the impact of the global economic crisis could ‘further brake’ progress in reducing child labour.
Through the Batang Malaya: Child labor free Philippines campaign, the National Child Labor Committee, chaired by the Department of Labor and Employment is calling for the following urgent actions:
– Institutionalize the Survey on Children to regularly monitor progress.
– Strengthen and rationalize the operations of the National Child Labor Committee by giving it a legal mandate, budget and a dedicated secretariat.
– Improve enforcement of RA 9231 to ensure that all persons found to be engaging children in the worst forms of child labour are penalized.
– Expand the reach and strengthen the capacity of the labour inspectorate to monitor child labour even in unregulated sectors.
– Mainstream child labour in local development plans and integrate as conditionality in programmes to reduce poverty including conditional cash transfers.
This is a press release from the International Labour Organization.
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