Monika works part-time in her mother's stall selling bangles. But she also goes to an accelerated learning centre to get educated. Photo: Mats Lignell/Save the Children 2010.
Children work all over the world
Children work in rich as well as in poor countries. The biggest number of working children is found in Asia. This is not surprising as this is where most children live. The highest proportion of working children is found in Africa, where one child in four is engaged in ’child labour’1
According to ILO more than 200 million children in the world are involved in ’child labour’, out of these 115 million are considered to be in hazardous work2 including trafficking, armed conflict, slavery, and sexual exploitation.
Girls have more household work than boys, although their work is often not included in statistics. There is strong evidence that the number of economically active children is decreasing, although ILO has found that this pace has slowed recently.
Among 5-14 year olds, the number of children involved in ‘child labour’ has declined by 10 per cent and the number of children in hazardous work by 31 per cent.
Why do girls and boys work?
In order to protect children from workplace abuse, it is important to understand the reasons for children’s entry into to labour market. There is much evidence to suggest that many children work for their own or their family’s survival.
A lack of access to good quality, relevant education is regarded as another key reason for children’s work, as governments have failed to ensure that education is genuinely free, or to invest in improvements in the quality of schooling. Negative attitudes and lack of skills among teachers, and the levels of abuse in schools, are factors that children and their families take into account when they regard work as more relevant than school.
Structural inequalities are important determinants of the types as well as the amounts of work that girls and boys do. For example, children may be discriminated against on the grounds of gender, ethnicity or disability, leading to exclusion from school, limited employment prospects and little choice but to work in harmful forms of work. When gender norms prevent women from entering paid employment, children might have to join the workforce.11
Seemingly unrelated issues like HIV/AIDS, conflict and climate change, can have a major impact on child work. For example, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has reduced the adult workforce and diverted expenditure away from social protection and education, pushing boys and girls into harmful work. Conflict can lead to an increase in child soldiers and to children being separated from their families, becoming vulnerable to exploitation. Environmental disasters associated with climate change can increase household vulnerability, forcing children to work to enhance the amount or stability of incomes.
Here are two social ads on the rights of persons with disabilities to work, produced by our Armenia office who is working on livelihoods programmes to prepare persons with disabilities. They have been produced within the "Livelihoods Improvement through Fostered Employment (LIFE) for People with Disabilities" programme. The latter is funded by the USAID and implemented by Save the Children in partnership with Unison, HDP and Full Life NGOs and Activa International Foundation