21 September 2017
ILO Reports Find Progress on Ending Child Labour Insufficient to Meet SDG Target
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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The ILO has launched two reports that aim to inform policy making and implementation of SDG Target 8.7 and related Goals and targets.

They find that the world must dramatically increase the pace of progress to achieve targets on ending child labour and forced labour and marriage.

19 September 2017: The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched two reports that caution that the world will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG Target 8.7 on ending child labour, unless society “dramatically” increases its efforts to end modern slavery and child labour. ILO launched the reports on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) annual General Debate, which is taking place in New York, US, from 19-25 September 2017.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8 (decent work and economic growth) focuses on promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable growth and full and productive employment and decent work for all. SDG Target 8.7 aims to “take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.” Both reports are presented to inform policy making and implementation of SDG Target 8.7 and related Goals and targets.

Titled ‘Global estimates of modern slavery: Forced labour and forced marriage,’ the report finds that more than 40 million people were victims of modern slavery in 2016, with 25 million in forced labour and 15 million in forced marriage. Women and girls are disproportionately affected, with women representing 71 percent of the overall victims of slavery and 84 percent of forced marriages. Of those affected by forced labor, 16 million were exploited in the private sector, including domestic work, construction and agriculture while 5 million were in forced sexual exploitation.

To end modern slavery, the report recommends: stronger social protection floors to offset the vulnerabilities that push people into slavery; extending labour rights in the informal economy to protect workers from exploitation; and improving migration governance. The report also elaborates on the importance of addressing gender considerations and tackling modern slavery as part of humanitarian actions in areas of fragility, conflict and crisis. The report further calls for improving the evidence base on modern slavery to inform and guide policy responses, including more effectively capturing specific sub-populations and strengthening national research and data collections efforts on modern slavery.

The rate of progress on ending child labour slowed during 2012-2016, “precisely at a time when substantial acceleration is needed to reach the ambitious 2025 target date” for ending child labour.

‘Global estimates of child labour: Results and trends’ finds that 152 million children, between the ages of 5 and 17, were subject to child labour. The report observes that there has been a dramatic decline in child labour over the 16 years that the ILO has monitored the trend but that the pace of decline has slowed during 2012 to 2016, “precisely at a time when substantial acceleration is needed to reach the ambitious 2025 target date” for ending child labour. The report calls for accelerated progress to end child labour, explaining that, if the world continues to progress at the 2012 to 2016 pace, 121 million children would remain in child labour in 2025.

Other key findings include: 90 percent of children in child labour live in Africa or the Asia-Pacific region; a breakthrough in ending child labour in Africa is critical to ending child labour worldwide; a strong correlation between child labour and conflict and disaster. The agricultural sector accounts for the largest concentration of child labour, with 70.9 percent of incidents of child labour. More than two-thirds of child labour takes place within the family unit.

ILO is a member of Alliance 8.7, a global strategic partnership committed to achieving SDG Target 8.7 while recognizing synergies between progress on SDG 8 and SDGs 1 (end poverty), 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality), 10 (reduced inequalities) and 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions).

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Walk Free Foundation collaborated with the ILO on the forced labour and marriage report. [ILO Press Release] [Publication: Global Estimates of Modern Slavery] [Publication: Global Estimates of Child Labour] [Alliance 8.7 Website] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Ending Child Labour in West Bank]

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