World Day Against Child Labour

Latest Context: World Day Against Child Labour, also known as Anti Child Labour Day, is observed on 12th June to highlight the impact of the child labour crisis. The day was celebrated under the theme- ‘Act Now: End Child Labour.’

Essential facts about World Day Against Child Labour are given in this article. IAS Exam aspirants can download the notes PDF provided in the article below.

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Facts about World Day Against Child Labour

  1. The world Day Against Child Labour was introduced in 2002 by ILO (International Labour Organisation) to focus on child labour and efforts needed to eliminate it.
  2. On this day, governments, employers, workers organisations, and civil society highlight the plight of child labourers and the required measures to help them. This day looks towards UN Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7.
SDG Target 8.7:

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, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.

Read more about Sustainable Development Goals in the linked article.

  1. The day also aims to encourage ratification of the 2014 protocol to the forced labour convention, protecting both children and adults.
  2. The theme for World Day Against Child Labour 2021 is: “Act Now: End Child Labour.” This theme has been included because the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed millions towards poverty, and child labour is directly linked to it.

What is Child Labour?

  1. According to ILO, child labour is defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.
  2. Bonded Labour: Exploitation in which the child is forced to pay for debt taken by his/her parent.
  3. Urban Child Labour: street children who spend almost all of their life on street work as labourers.

Forms of Child Labour

  1. Trafficking, debt bondage and forced labour.
  2. Forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.
  3. Use of a child for prostitution or pornography.
  4. Use of child for illicit activities like production and trafficking of drugs(as defined in international treaties).
  5. Work, by its nature that is likely to harm the health, safety and morals of children.

Work that does not constitute Child Labour

Not all work done by children should be considered as child labour and targeted for elimination.

Activities such as

  1. Helping their parents around the home.
  2. Assisting in a family business
  3. Earning pocket money outside school hours and during school holidays.

These activities, in fact, contribute to children’s development.

Child Labour Figures across the World

  1. According to a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF, The number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide. Child labour increased by 8.4 million in the last four years. Millions of children are at risk due to the impact of COVID-19.
  2. Child Labour: Global estimates 2020, trends, and the road forward warns that progress to end child labour has stalled for the first time in 20 years. The report points to a significant rise in children aged 5 to 11 years in child labour. Children aged 5 to 17 years in hazardous work has risen by 6.5 million to 79 million since 2016. Other key findings in the report include:
  3. The agriculture sector accounts for 70 per cent of children in child labour (112 million), followed by 20 per cent in services (31.4 million) and 10 per cent in the industry (16.5 million).
  4. Nearly 28 per cent of children aged 5 to 11 years and 35 per cent of children aged 12 to 14 years in child labour are out of school.
  5. Child labour is more prevalent among boys than girls at every age. When household chores performed for at least 21 hours per week are taken into account, the gender gap in child labour narrows.
  6. The prevalence of child labour in rural areas (14 per cent) is close to three times higher than in urban areas (5 per cent).

Disparities in India:

According to the 2011 Indian Census, five states, i.e., Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, account for more than half of the country’s total child labour population. Uttar Pradesh accounts for almost 20% of the country’s child labourers.

Uttar Pradesh 2.17 million
Bihar 1 million
Rajasthan 0.84 million
Madhya Pradesh 0.7 million
Maharastra 0.72 million

For more figures on child labour in India, refer to Child Labour in India.

International Initiatives against Child Labour

  1. The UN Convention on the rights of the child,1989, contains the idea that children are not just objects who belong to their parents and for whom decisions are made or adults in training. Rather, they are human beings and individuals with their rights.
  2. ILO convention 138(1973): Prescribes minimum age for admission to employment
  3. ILO convention 182(1999): On worst forms of child labour.
  4. The world day against child labour was established by ILO in 2002.
  5. Recently, ILO and UNICEF are developing a simulation model to look at the impact of COVID-19 on child labour globally.

Initiatives by India against Child Labour

  1. On the recommendations of the Gurupadaswamy committee, the union government enacted the Child Labour (Prohibition and & Regulation) Act in 1986.
  2. India has ratified convention no.138(minimum age for employment) and convention no. 182(worst forms of child labour).
  3. The government of India enacted the Child labour (Prohibition and Prevention) Amendment Act, 2016.
  4. Operation Smile, also called Operation Muskaan, is an initiative of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to rescue/rehabilitate missing children.
  5. The government has launched a Pencil platform dedicated to ensuring effective enforcement of child labour laws.
  6. Right to Education Act 2009 made it mandatory for the state to ensure that all children(6-14 years) are in school and receive free education.

Constitutional Provisions

Article 21(A) and Article 45 The state shall provide compulsory and free education to children aged between 6 to 14 years
Article 24 Child below 14 years cannot be employed in any mine, factory or hazardous workplace.
Article 39(f) The child’s youth and childhood are to be protected against moral and material abandonment and exploitation.

Get important articles of Indian Constitution in the linked article.

Some Issues of Child Labour

  1. Despite the presence of several laws, the issue of child labour is still prevalent in India. Child labour legislation is not adequate. The following are the challenges:
  2. In various laws dealing with child labour, there is confusion about the definition of child in terms of age.
  3. Due to a lack of identification documents, Age identification of children is a difficult task.
  4. Eradication of child labour has become difficult because of a lack of deterrence and corruption.
  5. Poverty and lack of school are the main hindrances to eradicate child labour.
  6. People from rural areas with little education often see no alternative but to take their children out of school and put them to work. The children grow up without education, health facilities and no knowledge of their rights.

Way Forward

  1. The GoI must adequately address the poverty cycle so that the people able to find their means to survive and spend on child education.
  2. NGOs like CARE India, ChildFund, Bachpan Bachao Andolan, Kailash Satyarthi and Children Foundation are working to eradicate child labour in India. Right collaboration with the State is required to eliminate child labour.
  3. There is Urgent action needed from the governments and International communities to address the problem of forced child labour.


  1. Several organisations like the UN, ILO etc., are making efforts to eliminate child labour. But the people should also be responsible and take their duties to help in curbing child labour.
  2. It is aptly said that the child that comes out of child labour comes to know his or her potential and self-worth.

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