The Food ad Agriculture (FAO) marked the World Day Against Child Labour on Friday June 12, 2020 by stressing the critical need to step up efforts to prevent a spike in child labour in agriculture due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s disruptive global impact on livelihoods, education, food and health systems.
This year’s observance focused on exploring child labour mitigation measures through livelihood and food assistance, social protection, health and education programmes which can help protect children from bearing the brunt of the pandemic impacts. FAO together with its partners promotes such initiatives as part of its efforts to help ensure decent employment conditions in the agricultural sectors.
Even before the pandemic, more than 70 percent of child labour – 108 million boys and girls worldwide – were found in the agricultural sectors, including fisheries and aquaculture, forestry, livestock, and crop farming.
COVID-19 is likely to exacerbate this situation and push more children out of school and into child labour. At least 320 million children have no access to school meals anymore since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis.
Due to school closures and the economic difficulties faced by households because of the pandemic, children may be put to work in conditions that are harmful and unacceptable.
To raise awareness of the possible implications, and build momentum in view of International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour – 2021, the FAO in collaboration with the International Partnership for Cooperation on Ending Child Labour in Agriculture (IPCCLA) produced a discussion titled “Meant to (l)earn” on preventing and reducing child labour in agriculture in times of COVID-19 and beyond.
The debate among others features Oscar-nominee Nadine Labaki, the multi-award winning Lebanese director, actress and activist, and Molly Namirembe, a former child labourer from Uganda, and is hosted by the France 24 journalist/presenter Valériane Gauthier.