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Calls to double efforts to end child labour in 2025

President Cyril Ramaphosa participated in the Opening Ceremony of the 5th Global Conference on Elimination of Child Labour at Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in eThekwini. Picture: Kopano Tlape

President Cyril Ramaphosa participated in the Opening Ceremony of the 5th Global Conference on Elimination of Child Labour at Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in eThekwini. Picture: Kopano Tlape

Published May 16, 2022

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Durban - President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged countries to implement free, equitable and quality education in order to end child labour in 2025.

The president was speaking at the fifth global child labour conference which started in Durban on Sunday.

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It is the first time the conference is being held on African soil. It will run until Friday. It is expected to come up with strategies and plans to end the practice within three years because at the last conference in 2017, delegates committed to ending the scourge in 2025.

Ramaphosa gave the delegates six pointers that he said their countries should implement if they wanted to meet the 2025 target.

“As a global community, we must demonstrate our commitment to ending child labour by committing ourselves to far-reaching actions. Firstly, we must ensure the full implementation by all countries of the ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention of 1999. Secondly, we must attain universal access to social protection, with a specific focus on children and the vulnerable. By providing a basic floor of support for families with children, we can reduce the need for children to be put to work, whether in the home or elsewhere,” said the president.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa participated in the Opening Ceremony of the 5th Global Conference on Elimination of Child Labour at Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in eThekwini. Picture: Kopano Tlape

He said countries must work towards free, equitable and quality education for all children, so that every child has an opportunity to advance and to improve their material circumstances. He added that South Africa’s experience had been that child support grants, fee-free basic education and school feeding schemes had been a lifeline for indigent families.

Ramaphosa said such initiatives helped keep children in school and thus less vulnerable to exploitation.

On the fourth point, the president said countries must intensify efforts to end all forms of discrimination against the girl child, particularly with respect to domestic work and access to education.

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“We must also expand global supply chains to include poorer countries as part of our efforts to achieve decent work and eradicate child labour.”

“Lastly, we need to ensure that companies and consumers are more aware of child labour and its effects and that through their purchasing and investment decisions, they do not support exploitative labour practices”.

From right: Global children rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi, KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala, president Cyril Ramaphosa and other dignitaries at the child labour conference in Durban. Photo supplied.

For the first time, the conference was addressed by the children’s ambassador, Thato Mhlungu, from the Nelson Mandela Children Parliament who thanked the organiser for including children in matters that affected them. She called on the organisers to not only invite them to deliver speeches but to also include them in the discussion group so that they participated fully in the fight to end the practice.

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The meeting was also addressed by the global children’s rights activist and 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi who said he was saddened that despite his 45 years fighting the practice it was increasing rather than decreasing, calling on delegates to do more.

Other delegates included those from labour union Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu), International Labour Organisation general secretary Guy Ryder, Malawian vice president Saulos Chilima and others.

The ILO revealed that to date more than 160 million children were child labourers worldwide and between the last conference in Argentina in 2017 and now, 89 million children between 5 and 11 became child labourers. It said 73% work in the agriculture sector where they were forced to work in exchange for the families to live on the farms.

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