June 11, 2009

100 million girls in child labour worldwide —ILO

By Funmi Komolafe in Geneva
GENEVA—OVER 100 million girls are engaged in child-labour worldwide and the number could increase with the social impact of the global financial crisis affecting the girl-child in many countries,  the ILO warned at its on-going 98th International Conference in Geneva yesterday.

Tomorrow’sWorld Day against Child Labour  coincides with the 10th anniversary of ILO Convention No. 182 on the elimination of the worst forms of child labour.

In a statement to mark the World Day Against Child Labour, tomorrow, June 12, ILO, which would be marking the day with a new report,  entitled: “Give Girls a Chance: Tackling child labour, a key to the future,” stated “while recent global estimates indicate the number of children involved in child labour has been falling, the financial crisis threatens to erode this progress.”

ILO’s Director-General, Mr. Juan Somavia said, “We have seen some real progress in reducing child labour. The policies chosen in the present crisis will be a test of national and global commitment to take this fight forward.”

As stated in the new report, “the danger of girls being forced into child labour is linked to evidence that in many countries families give preference to boys when making decisions on education of children,” he added.

He added that “because of the increase in poverty as result of the crisis poor families with a number of children may have to make choices as to which children stay in school.

”In cultures in which a higher value is placed on education of male children, girls risk being taken out of school, and are then likely to enter the workforce at an early age.”

Other factors which the ILO stated  could push up the numbers of girls in in child labour are, “ cuts in national education budgets, and a decline in remittances of migrant workers, as these remittances often help to keep children in school”.

So far, the ILO director general said, “With 169 ratifications we are now just 14 short of universal ratification by our member States. “It is a remarkable expression of commitment”.

Restating the objectives of the Convention which Nigeria has ratified, the Mr. Somavia said, “ This Convention calls for special attention to the situation of girls and we want to highlight the particular risks that girls face during this crisis.

Protecting girls – and all children – from child labour calls for integrated responses that include jobs for parents, and social protection measures that help them to keep both girls and boys in school. Access to basic education and training for girls and boys must also be part of the solutions for the future.”

The ILO report added “Much work undertaken by girls is hidden from public view, which creates particular dangers. Girls make up the overwhelming number of children in domestic work in third party households and there are regular reports of the abuse of child domestic workers”.

In addition it stated, in “ their own homes, girls take on household chores to a much greater extent than boys. Combined with economic activity outside the household, this imposes a “double burden” that increases the risk of girls dropping out of school; and,

In many societies girls are in an inferior and vulnerable position and are more likely to lack basic education. This seriously restricts their future opportunities”.

The report  recommended “ the importance of investing in the education of girls as an effective way of tackling poverty. Educated girls are more likely to earn more as adults, marry later in life, have fewer and healthier children and have decision-making power within the household. Educated mothers are also more likely to ensure that their own children are educated, thereby helping to avoid future child labour”.

Nigeria will join other member countries of the ILO to mark Child Labour Day on June 12.

Jonathan for ILO confab

GENEVA—President Umaru Yar’Adua is one of the heads of state scheduled to address the 98th session of the International Labour Conference (ILO).

It was, however, gathered that the President would be represented by the Vice-President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

Already, the Nigerian High Commission in Geneva had sent mail to Nigerians residing in Geneva to welcome the Vice-President, who will be accompanied by his wife..

Consequently, the Vice- President would at the plenary session of the conference adress the 7,000 delegates representing 183 countries.

After the plenary session, Jonathan will meet with the African Group  during which issues of labour inspection and filling of inaccurate or incomplete report which the Workers Group complained against Nigeria would be raised.

The meeting may also discuss the issues for which the NLC has been organising protests against Nigeria as delegates would want to know how Nigeria is responding to NLC^s demands.

NLC demands  include the demand of the National Minimum Wage of N52, 500 per month, opposition to the deregulation of the down stream sector of the petroleum industry particularly PMS  and the full  implementation of the Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Committee report.

Nigeria is a member of the Governing Body of the ILO.