Social protection helps reduce child labor

GENEVA (ILO News) – Social protection reduces the poverty and vulnerability of families, thereby reducing the main drivers of child labour, according to a new report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Fund for childhood (UNICEF).

The role of social protection in eliminating child labour: review of the evidence and policy implicationspresents evidence from a number of studies conducted since 2010 that show how social protection – by helping families cope with economic or health shocks – reduces child labor and facilitates schooling.

However, too little progress has been made in ensuring that all children enjoy social protection, the study says. Worldwide, 73.6%, or some 1.5 billion children aged 0 to 14, do not receive any family or family cash benefits. This large protection gap needs to be closed and closed quickly, the report says.

“There are many reasons to invest in universal social protection, but eliminating child labor must be one of the most compelling, given its pernicious impact on the rights and well-being of children,” said Guy Ryder, Director-General of the ILO.

Governments have a range of policies they can deploy to promote social protection. Unless policymakers act decisively, the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing conflicts, rising poverty and climate change will only increase the prevalence of child labor, the study finds.

More than 160 million children worldwide – 1 in 10 children between the ages of 5 and 17 – are still engaged in child labor, and progress has stalled since 2016. These trends were present even before the global crisis. COVID-19. It is estimated that without mitigation strategies, the number of children in child labor could increase by 8.9 million by the end of 2022, due to increased poverty and vulnerability.

There are many reasons to invest in universal social protection, but eliminating child labor has to be one of the most compelling.”

Guy Ryder, ILO Director General

In order to strengthen social protection systems for the prevention and elimination of child labour, the report makes a number of recommendations:

  • Closing the gap in social protection coverage for children. This means prioritizing child benefits and extending social protection to the two billion workers in the informal economy, supporting their transition from the informal to the formal economy.
  • Building integrated social protection systems. Reducing child labor will be easier if countries have a social protection system that provides adequate benefits throughout the life cyclefrom family, maternity and unemployment benefits to old-age pensions and health protection.
  • Ensure that the design of social protection programs is inclusive and sensitive to child labor. This will help maximize the reduction of child labor and requires:
    • Introduce child and family benefits that reach all households with children, especially those in situations of greatest vulnerability.
    • Make it easier for carers to access their social protection benefits by simplifying registration procedures and offering different benefit payment mechanisms
    • Complement social protection programs with increased investment in quality universal basic education and other vital social services for children.
  • Build on the strong political commitment that already exists to end child labor and establish universal social protection to build consensus for action. The sustainable development agenda and the strong consensus reached by the International Labor Conference in 2021, as well as the outcomes of the Durban conference on child labour, can help coordinate international initiatives.
  • Promote investment in social protection systems as a driver of development. Almost all countries have the potential to mobilize domestic resources to invest incrementally in strengthening their social protection systems for children,

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