Continuing the fight to end child labour

Every year, on June 12, the world observes Child Labour Day, a solemn reminder of the millions of children worldwide who are deprived of their childhood and forced into laborious activities. In 2024, as this day is commemorated this year, it’s crucial to reflect on the progress made and the challenges that persist in eradicating child labour.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines child labour as work that deprives children of their childhood, potential, and dignity, and that is harmful to their physical and mental development. Despite significant strides in recent years, child labour remains a pressing global issue, affecting approximately 152 million children worldwide, according to the latest ILO estimates.
The theme for Child Labour Day 2024 is “Act Now: End Child Labour!” This theme emphasises the urgency of addressing child labour and underscores the collective responsibility of Governments, civil society organisations, businesses, and individuals in combating this scourge.
One of the notable achievements in the fight against child labour has been the increased awareness and advocacy surrounding the issue. Governments and international organisations have implemented various initiatives aimed at eliminating child labour, such as enacting legislation, promoting education, and providing support to vulnerable families.
Here in Guyana, child labour encompasses various forms, including children working in agriculture, domestic service, informal sectors, and small-scale mining operations.
The Government has passed legislation and enacted laws that mandate severe penalties for infringements that could cause harm to children while yet recognising that the Guyanese culture allows children to be involved in family income-generation activities, as well as children’s efforts to engage in odd jobs in their spare time, once such activities do not affect their education and/or jeopardise them or their health in any way.
Guyana has also ratified key international conventions, such as the International Labour Organisation’s Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour (No. 182) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, demonstrating its commitment to combating child labour.
Human Services and Social Security Minister, Dr Vindhya Persaud had called on stakeholders to collaborate to end child labour in Guyana while Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton had warned employers to exercise their due diligence to discourage the practice.
To quote the Minister: “I wish to remind employers that they have a responsibility to prevent and eliminate this scourge in society and to ensure that the necessary due diligence in their business processes and supply chains is done to discourage the involvement of child labour in the business eco-system…”
On Child Labour Day 2024, it is imperative that we renew our commitment to ending child labour in all its forms.
Individuals can also contribute to the fight against child labour by making informed choices as consumers, supporting companies that adhere to ethical labour practices, and raising awareness about the issue in their communities.
As we mark Child Labour Day 2024, let us remember that every child deserves the right to a childhood free from exploitation and labour. By working together and taking concrete actions, we can create a world where every child can realise their full potential and thrive in a safe and nurturing environment.
On this journey, it is imperative that all stakeholders unite in their commitment to safeguarding the rights and well-being of every child, ensuring that they are afforded the opportunity to grow, learn, and thrive in a safe and nurturing environment. Only through collective action and unwavering dedication can we create a future where child labour is relegated to the annals of history in Guyana.