A new ILO report states that child labor has been in decline since 2000.
In 2000, there were an estimated 246 million child laborers. Today, a new report by the International Labour Organization states that this number is now around 168 million – a decrease of about 1/3 within twelve years. While credit is going around to those who have for years waged war against child labor, even those in the industry are, as a member of the National Consumers League told me when she learned of the news: “It’s great, of course. But I’m skeptical anytime there’s good news.”
The fight goes on, especially because more than half of those 68 million children are working in what the industry calls “hazardous environments.” This includes everything from shipbreaking in Bangladesh to gold mining in Tanzania, from cotton picking in Uzbekistan to grain harvesting in the United States.
Here are a few interesting findings from the report:
- The largest absolute number of child labourers is found in the Asia-Pacific region (almost 78 million), but Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region with the highest incidence of child labour in terms of proportion of the population, at over 21%.
- The incidence of child labour is highest in poorer countries but middle-income countries have the largest numbers of child labourers.
- Child labour among girls fell by 40 % since 2000, compared to 25 % for boys.
- Agriculture remains by far the most important sector where child labourers can be found (98 million children, or 59%)
–Photo: ILO in Asia and the Pacific/Flickr