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Covid-19 impact: Child Labour likely to increase

A joint report by the ILO and UNICEF finds that millions of children are at risk of being pulled out of school and forced to work for a living

Sabrangindia 13 Jun 2020

child labour

That the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns across the world have had an adverse impact on the global economy is an understatement. However, perhaps the greatest victims of this economic downturn are children, especially those hailing from socio-economically backward backgrounds.

A joint report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nation International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) has discovered that these children are at risk of being pulled out of school and put to work, especially in the informal sector where labour laws and regulations are loosely implemented.

The study says, “The pandemic has increased economic insecurity, profoundly disrupted supply chains and halted manufacturing. Tightening credit is constraining financial markets in many countries. Public budgets are straining to keep up. When these and other factors result in losses in household income, expectations that children contribute financially can intensify. More children could be forced into exploitative and hazardous jobs. Those already working may do so for longer hours or under worsening conditions.”

Highlighting how this would disproportionately impact the girl child, the report says, “Gender inequalities may grow more acute within families, with girls expected to perform additional household chores and agricultural work. Temporary school closures may exacerbate these tendencies, as households look for new ways to allocate children’s time.”

The report explains the relationship between economic turbulence and child labour saying, “With poverty comes child labour as households use every available means to survive. Prospects vary by country, but causal estimates of elasticity are mostly above 0.7. In other words, a 1 percentage point rise in poverty leads to at least a 0.7 percentage point increase in child labour.”

Warning about the possibility of children being absorbed in the informal sector, the report says, “As is well documented, child labour is prevalent mainly in the informal economy, where children can easily step in as unskilled labourers. Threats to children’s rights from an enlarged informal sector should therefore not be underestimated. Greater informal employment coupled with economic hardship could push many children out of school and into the labour market.”

The report also highlights the vulnerability of the girl child in such a situation saying, “Girls are particularly vulnerable to exploitation in agriculture, informal labour and domestic work, and face greater risks of sexual and gender-based violence.”

But another huge crisis is the reduced access to education in wake of lockdowns across the world. The report says, “Most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. School closures have affected more than 90 per cent of total enrolled learners, or about 1.6 billion students. Many schools have moved online with distance learning, but nearly half the world has no access to the Internet, leaving many students even further behind.” It also says, “While fallout from schooling disruption may be limited for most children, this may not be true for those in poor households and in areas most intensively hit by COVID-19. Even when classes restart, some parents may no longer be able to afford to send their children to school.”

The entire report may be read here: 

 

Related:

1.6 billion informal economy workers significantly impacted by lockdown measures: ILO
India may beat Covid-19, but will it recover from the unemployment spiral?

Covid-19 pandemic has cost one in six young people their jobs: ILO

Covid-19 impact: Child Labour likely to increase

A joint report by the ILO and UNICEF finds that millions of children are at risk of being pulled out of school and forced to work for a living

child labour

That the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns across the world have had an adverse impact on the global economy is an understatement. However, perhaps the greatest victims of this economic downturn are children, especially those hailing from socio-economically backward backgrounds.

A joint report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nation International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) has discovered that these children are at risk of being pulled out of school and put to work, especially in the informal sector where labour laws and regulations are loosely implemented.

The study says, “The pandemic has increased economic insecurity, profoundly disrupted supply chains and halted manufacturing. Tightening credit is constraining financial markets in many countries. Public budgets are straining to keep up. When these and other factors result in losses in household income, expectations that children contribute financially can intensify. More children could be forced into exploitative and hazardous jobs. Those already working may do so for longer hours or under worsening conditions.”

Highlighting how this would disproportionately impact the girl child, the report says, “Gender inequalities may grow more acute within families, with girls expected to perform additional household chores and agricultural work. Temporary school closures may exacerbate these tendencies, as households look for new ways to allocate children’s time.”

The report explains the relationship between economic turbulence and child labour saying, “With poverty comes child labour as households use every available means to survive. Prospects vary by country, but causal estimates of elasticity are mostly above 0.7. In other words, a 1 percentage point rise in poverty leads to at least a 0.7 percentage point increase in child labour.”

Warning about the possibility of children being absorbed in the informal sector, the report says, “As is well documented, child labour is prevalent mainly in the informal economy, where children can easily step in as unskilled labourers. Threats to children’s rights from an enlarged informal sector should therefore not be underestimated. Greater informal employment coupled with economic hardship could push many children out of school and into the labour market.”

The report also highlights the vulnerability of the girl child in such a situation saying, “Girls are particularly vulnerable to exploitation in agriculture, informal labour and domestic work, and face greater risks of sexual and gender-based violence.”

But another huge crisis is the reduced access to education in wake of lockdowns across the world. The report says, “Most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. School closures have affected more than 90 per cent of total enrolled learners, or about 1.6 billion students. Many schools have moved online with distance learning, but nearly half the world has no access to the Internet, leaving many students even further behind.” It also says, “While fallout from schooling disruption may be limited for most children, this may not be true for those in poor households and in areas most intensively hit by COVID-19. Even when classes restart, some parents may no longer be able to afford to send their children to school.”

The entire report may be read here: 

 

Related:

1.6 billion informal economy workers significantly impacted by lockdown measures: ILO
India may beat Covid-19, but will it recover from the unemployment spiral?

Covid-19 pandemic has cost one in six young people their jobs: ILO

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