The International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour by the United Nations General Assembly was declared in 2021, in light of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8.7 that seeks to eliminate all forms of child labour by 2025, specifically 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.
See: Concept Note (English)
Agriculture is among the most hazardous industries to work in at any age, but it is particularly hazardous for children. It is widely uncontrolled and many labourers are not represented by unions or producers' associations, making the domain especially susceptible to labour violations. Child labour can result in severe physical and mental damage, as well as death. The ILO identifies the agricultural sector as one of the most treacherous industries, and it requires particular consideration because it is marked by a high rate of deaths, casualties, and occupational ailments, as well as a variety of physical, physiological, psychological, and ergonomic threats and liabilities.
Of the 160 million children engaged in child labour about 60 percent are boys. However it is not clear to what extend this gap exists in agriculture. Both boys and girls are heavily involved in agriculture activities especially as family labour. It is crucial to better understand the level of participation and challenges they face because of their gender.
Out of the 22 member countries form the Near East and North Africa (RNE) region, below is the focus on four countries (Egypt, Lebanon, Sudan and Tunisia) which have been selected from the RNE region by the FAO as an example to accelerate efforts toward the elimination of child labour in agriculture. Egypt, Lebanon, Sudan and Tunisia have been identified as countries with high levels of child labour, including child labour in agriculture, and also where elimination of child labour is an expressed policy priority. In addition, and based on the work of FAO in these four countries, the food insecurity and increased poverty rates are two major problems, mainly poverty pockets located in rural areas where most of the people are undernourished and unable to meet their basic needs.
- Gulnar Wakim, Child Labour Consultant - Background paper on child labour in agriculture in the NENA region: How and why is child labour important beyond just legal and enforcement?
- Tareq Hassan, Founder & Head, Arab Youth Sustainable Development Network (AYSDN)
- Mustapha Tlili, the executive director of the Arab Trace Union Confederation
- TBD, Ministry of Agriculture, Lebanon