Young activists from across the world are speaking up for those who are at risk of becoming child laborers. They are asking their leaders to take action and protect children from the devastating effects the COVID-19 pandemic will have on marginalized children now and in the future. Right now, there are an estimated 152 million children in child labor – and according to a new ILO and UNICEF report, child labor could increase for the first time in 20 years.
Below, courtesy of the Global March Against Child Labour, is a compilation of youth perspectives on the threat of child labor in the age of COVID-19 and their messages to world leaders.
Louis Henriques Soares Silva, 17, Brazil
Louis Henriques Soares Silva discusses the increased threat of child labor due to the economic crisis the pandemic creates and why children may become vulnerable to labor to support their family’s income. He also recognizes that many youth do not have access to distance learning and this lack of access only heightens inequality in education. He believes increased benefits to low-income families is very important so families can support themselves and their children while they are out of work.
Dipti Bhujal, Nepal
Dipti Bhujal, once a child laborer in domestic work, shares that many people in her community have lost their incomes, children cannot go to school and may not have access to food. Dipti fears that there is a high chance children may be sent to work to help pay family loans or fill income gaps. She calls on policy makers to provide jobs and skill trainings for parents, prevent children from going to work and provide free education and healthcare in the villages.
Seyed Farhan Haider, 20, Pakistan
Seyed Farhan Haider was also formerly in child labor and knows many families who’s children are still engaged in child labor. He discusses how COVID-19 has led to a global halt in economic life and how many children cannot go to school. He believes the government needs to prioritize education during this time.
Johan Masis, 17, Costa Rica
Johan Masis shares his experience working tiring hours in his family business at young age and implores his government to help youth at this stage of the pandemic.
Amar Lal, 23, India
Amar Lal was rescued from child labor by global child rights activist and our founder Kailash Satyarthi. He notes that due to the pandemic, many lost their jobs and businesses and industries have collapsed. Because of this, the demand for cheap labor will increase and likely lead to more child labor and trafficking. He asks world leaders to implement the ILO Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor so every child will have access to education and justice.
Wilmer Aníbal Ramos González, 14, Guatemala
Wilmer Aníbal Ramos González used to work in plantations. He shares how coronavirus has affected his community and appeals to leaders to establish a hospital in his community so those affected by the virus can be closer to care.
For more on why we must protect children now more than ever, check out the International Labour Organization’s high-level conversation in honor of the World Day Against Child Labor featuring KSCF’s Founder Kailash Satyarthi, UNICEF ED Henrietta Fore, ILO Secretary General Guy Ryder, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrows among others.