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SAARC child labour workshop to begin on Wednesday

May 28, 2013

The workshop will showcase strategies and initiatives that have promoted learning and action to ending child labour.

The second regional Workshop on child labour in South Asian countries will begin in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The three-day-long workshop is being held in the backdrop of a call by governments across the region to chalk out and promote comprehensive and gender-sensitive approaches to understanding and responding to child labour.

As a platform of sharing of knowledge and experience amongst SAARC Member countries, the workshop will also showcase strategies and initiatives that have promoted learning and action to ending child labour and protecting adolescents at work.

The workshop is an example of how the SAARC mechanism can be used to foster cooperation through partnerships among the countries in the region on a sensitive issue like child labour.

The workshop is being jointly organised by the Ministry of Labour and Employment of the Government of India and V V Giri National Labour Institute in collaboration with the International Labour Organization.

Based on officially available statistics, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that that there are 21.6 million children, aged between 5 and 14 years, working in south Asia out of a total of 300 million children in this age group.

The factors that contribute to child labour in South Asia include parental poverty and illiteracy; social and economic circumstances; lack of awareness; lack of access to basic and meaningful quality education and skills, internal conflict, migration and trafficking and high rates of adult unemployment and under-employment. Attitudes towards child labour also play an important role. In South Asia, children are perceived as 'adults' at an early stage. Children are expected to perform physical work equivalent to an adult as early as 10 years old in some countries.

There is a great deal of commonality across the South Asian countries in the forms of child labour, most notably in the areas of Child domestic labour and children engaged in hazardous child labour.

South Asian countries have also been accused of unfair trade practices by employing children in export oriented industries, a political issue, especially since it invites non-tariff trade barriers.

Besides trafficking in children, child bonded labour, particularly in agriculture and child labour in the informal economy, especially in urban areas have also been highlighted by civil society groups over the years.

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