World Day Against Child Labor 2024

In 2002, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) declared June 12 to be the World Day Against Child Labour. The purpose of this world day is to raise awareness about child labor, as it remains a major problem that deprives children of their childhood and innocence.

According to the United Nations (UN), child labour can be defined as, “work performed by children who are under the minimum age legally specified for that kind of work, or work that, because of its detrimental nature or conditions, is considered unacceptable for children and is prohibited.” The priority is to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, all forms of slavery, prostitution, illicit and hazardous activities. According to ILO Convention No. 182, they include all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery; involvement of children in commercial sexual exploitation; involvement of children in illicit activities; and work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children (Article 3).

According to a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF, the number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide. This shows an increase of 8.4 million children recently, especially with millions more at risk due to the impacts of COVID-19. Approximately 79 million were carrying out hazardous work, endangering their health, safety and moral development. The sub-Saharan African region has the highest rate of child labour, with 24% of children employed as child labourers, a total of nearly 87million. Subsequently, Asia and the Pacific region has the second highest figure, where 48.7 million children still remain in child labour. Globally, the vast majority of child laborers (71%) work in the agricultural sector. The Africa and the Asia and the Pacific regions together account for almost nine out of every ten children in child labour worldwide. The remaining child labour population is divided among the Americas (11 million), Europe and Central Asia (6 million), and the Arab States (1 million).

The World Day Against Child Labour 2024 theme stands as “Let’s act on our commitments: End Child Labour!”. This year’s World Day will focus on celebrating the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (1999, No. 182). It also presents an opportunity to remind all stakeholders to improve their implementation of the two fundamental Conventions on child labour – Convention No. 182 and Convention No. 138 concerning the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment or Work (1973).

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also include a renewed global commitment to ending child labour. Specifically, target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals calls on the global community to: “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.”

Moreover, evidence provided by the ILO suggests that amongst child laborers, it is migrant children who work longer hours, receive less pay, less often attend school, and face higher death rates at work in comparison to local children. Even though there is a significant amount of child migrant workers connected with child labour, child migrants are largely invisible in debates about migration, child protection and child labour.

Every year on June 12 is an important reminder that even though much progress has been made in reducing child labour over the years, recent years have seen global trends reverse, and, now more than ever it is important to join forces to accelerate action towards ending child labour in all its forms.

By Chinyere Ojinwosu, Intern at SIMI

Works Cited

European Parliamentary Research Service. (June 2023). At a Glance: World Day Against Child Labour. 65_EN.pdf

International Labor Organization (2024). World Day Against Child Labour. t-child-labour

International Labor Organization (2024).Child labour statistics and research.

International Labor Organization (2023). Migration & Child Labour: ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC),the%20language%20of%20their%20destination

United Nations (2024). 2024 Theme: Let’s act on our commitments: End Child Labour!