Recent ILO report into child labour, which currently affects some 215 million children worldwide, shows that social protection policies can play a key role in the fight against it. Meanwhile UN-HABITAT’s report on urban youth stresses that the young are “society’s most important and dynamic human resource” despite close to half of them living on less than $2 a day.
World Report on Child Labour: Economic vulnerability, social protection and the fight against child labour
Is a new ILO study which reviews relevant research on how different types of social protection measures can help combat child labour. These include cash transfer schemes, social health protection and income security in old age.
For example, Brazil’s Bolsa Familia cash transfer programme – which pays families a certain amount per month provided their children go to school – has played a key role in the reduction of child labour both in rural and urban areas.
In Cambodia, child labour was down by ten per cent following the introduction of the Education Sector Support Project scholarship programme – which also involves cash transfers.
The report, which is the first in a series, cites a study in Guatemala showing that children from households where at least one member is covered by health insurance are about 4.5 per cent less likely to work.
Income in old age was also analysed by the authors: In Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, for instance, 50-60 per cent of orphans live with their grandparents. In such households, the degree of income security in old age plays a significant role in limiting child labour.
“This report contributes to a better understanding of the underlying economic and social vulnerabilities that generate child labour,” said Constance Thomas, IPEC Director.
“It clearly shows that investing in social protection through nationally-defined social protection floors is a crucial part of the response in the fight against child labour, which also includes access to decent jobs for adults and education for children.”
According to ILO estimates, more than 5 billion people – about 75 per cent of the global population – do not have effective access to comprehensive social protection.
The report says that extending social protection in line with the ILO Recommendation on social protection floors, adopted less than a year ago, should be a key part of national strategies to tackle child labour. National social protection floors should include at least a basic level of income security throughout the life cycle, as well as access to essential health care.
The authors also recommend introducing child labour-specific measures in social security systems, strengthening national legal frameworks and capacity, as well as reaching out to vulnerable groups of children such as those living with HIV, migrant children, children from marginalised ethnic minorities, indigenous and other economically and socially excluded groups.
The State of Urban Youth 2012/2013 , Youth in the Prosperity of Cities
The report stressed that while the young are “society’s most important and dynamic human resource” – with 1.3 billion between ages 12 and 24, most of them living in urban areas – nearly 45 per cent of them, some 515 million, live on less than $2 a day.
It called for better aligning educational and training systems with the current and future needs of young people, so that they cannot only discern developmental issues but may even be capable of suggesting innovative solutions to deep problems of development and growth.
“Of paramount importance is access to education and opportunities for acquiring skills,” the study added, stressing that youth inequality in urban life is closely related to unequal opportunities in later life and calling for policies that include investment in economic infrastructure, tax incentives, vocational training schemes and regulations that aim at a more equitable labour market for urban youth.