ChildHope's work is based on a commitment to securing social justice for children around the world. Many of the children supported by ChildHope are involved in child labour. At the beginning of the new millennium, 1 in 12 children in the world were reckoned to be involved in work which puts their health at risk or cases them serious harm. (UNICEF, Child Labour Today 2005)
Children are forced into child labour by the poverty that obliges their parents to send them to work instead of attending school, many of which have their lives endangered by their work and are abused and treated as commodities. Of these, large numbers of children perform domestic labour to earn a living. Such children are often referred to as "invisible" child workers. These domestic workers are virtually invisible to outsiders, as they work in the privacy of people's homes. Most of these workers are girls.
Yet the United Nations Convention on the Rights of The Child (UNCRC), Article 32 states children have the right:
"to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development."With growing international concern to tackle child labour the following initiatives will offer opportunities to address the root causes of child labour and bring about major changes designed to benefit vulnerable children at the national and international level. ChildHope welcomes such initiatives as despite the achievements made over the last 21 years in our work with extremely vulnerable children, a huge amount remains to be done.
On the 10th May 2010, representatives of countries around the world will gather in The Hague, Netherlands, for the Child Labour Conference in order to tackle the continuing issue of children engaged in hazardous forms of labour and to chart a course for the improvement and ideally the elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL). This is particularly timely as 2010 marks the tenth anniversary of the ratification of the ILO Convention 182 on WFCL, the goal of which was the elimination of child labour worldwide.
While the Convention aims to eradicate the worst forms of child labour entirely by 2016, efforts have so far proved inadequate. There is currently an estimated 218 million children working illegally across the world. With the problem of child labour showing no signs of abating, nations are hoping to enact a plan based upon the following objectives:
- Achieve universal ratification by states of ILO Conventions 138 and 182 (both related to eliminating child labour and ensuring child rights)
- Deliver the commitment to take immediate and effective measures to end the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency
- Agree on significantly intensified efforts to reach the 2016 goal laid down in the Global Action Plan, endorsed in 2007 by the ILO Governing Body and detailing specific strategies for the elimination of child labour
Following the Child Labour Conference, the International Labour Conference (ILC) will meet in Geneva during the first two weeks of June to hold discussions regarding a possible new global instrument focus on the rights of Domestic Workers. It is often children who perform domestic labour making them extremely vulnerable to abuse at the hands of their employer. The ILO states: 'Abuse and exploitation are common, especially when children½ are involved. Because of their young age½and the fact that they often live in the employer's households, they are particularly vulnerable to verbal and physical violence.' The ILC will address this vulnerability and mistreatment, hopefully resulting in new ways of ensuring the same rights for domestic workers that employees in other sectors enjoy.
National, regional, and international NGOs from around the world are invited to join in signing a statement to call upon members of the ILO to give special consideration to the vulnerability of child domestic workers around the world, and to adopt a binding Convention that ensures special protections for children.