Durban – The 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour, which wraps up today at the Durban ICC, yesterday (Thursday) hosted a child participation session for the first time in its history.
This was in line with the country’s Constitution and Article 12 of the UN on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
Ahead of the session yesterday, during the week, child delegates from 10 countries held robust engagements, looking at six key areas in which children needed to have their voices amplified, including forced labour, slavery, child trafficking and slavery, as well as poor access to free quality education, Covid-19, as well as poverty.
The child delegates were introduced only by their first names to protect them.
Mary-Anne, from South Africa, said that children no longer wanted to be under the Department of Social Development and wanted to be moved to the office of the Presidency.
She said that as children, they had observed numerous issues pertaining to forced labour, slavery and child trafficking.
“In our discussions, we have up come with recommendations for solutions, mainly for stakeholders such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) to create an accountability corner for the government to account as to what is the progress on the implementation of policies and commitments they have adopted, and for media to commit to the consistent broadcasting of children’s issues, especially child trafficking, child slavery and child labour,” she said.
She further said that other recommendations included fast-tracking the implementation of the policies adopted, as well as monitoring already existing legislation.
“We as the children request that more child rights governance systems be put in place, for there to be more platforms where children can actively participate in decision-making processes concerning them and for organisations, such as the ILO and Unicef, to have a children’s division where they can work with us and not for us.”
Mary-Anne said the children were also making a call to the National Treasury to provide a budget allocation for quality education.
“So that there can be free quality education which is compulsory, especially in developing countries… We have to think of education as the way of an African child, in Africa, we plant so if at school we are learning about how we can utilise our resources properly, then we will get a better education and be able to use the education to create future jobs.”
She said there was another call for the National Treasury to invest in skills development in order for entrepreneurial skills to be learnt and, therefore, to create jobs.
This was while Ashley, from Guatemala, who was still in child labour, said the driving force behind child labour was poverty.
The children’s session included an intergenerational dialogue where children and policymakers discussed solutions to eliminate child labour.
Young delegates represented all the children of the world. They shared their experiences of child labour and outlined their proposals and recommendations for governments and policymakers.
It is estimated that 164 million children around the world are affected by child labour, 600 000 of whom are in South Africa.