The saying by author and poet Oscar Wilde that “The best way to make children good is to make them happy”, is very true, as they are the future of our world. But in this day and age, there is a growing concern about the number of children, who instead of being in schools or at play, are being forced to work so they can survive. Instead of toys to play with, they have been given a hammer and chisel to make a living. So on June 12, which is marked as World Day Against Child Labour, we take a look at the history and significance of the day.
So many children in the age group 5 to 17 are engaged in work that deprives them of a normal childhood, like getting adequate education, proper health care, leisure time or just basic freedom. In 2002, the United Nations body that regulates the world of work, the International Labour Organization (ILO), launched the World Day Against Child Labour for this very reason.
The reason June 12 is marked as World Day Against Child Labour is to bring attention to the problem of child labour and to find ways to eradicate it or fight against it. With children being pushed into forced labour, illicit activities such as drug trafficking and prostitution, the day brings together people from all walks of life to raise awareness about the problem of child labour and to define guidelines to help them.
Census 2011 statistics tell us, in India 10.13 million child labourers between 5-14 years. Analysis of census data by Child Rights and You (CRY) revealed that about 1.4 million child labourers in India in the age group of 7-14 years can't write their names. This means one in three child labourers in the said age group are illiterate.
This is the grim reality of children who work for more than six months in a year. Even for children who support the family economy by working for less than six months in a year, the situation is equally, if not more, worse.
Ever since independence, the government of India has taken several measures to eradicate the menace of child labour. There have been specific legislation aimed at curbing the problem and punishing the offenders.
Also, several social programs for the rehabilitation for children who are rescued from child labour are run at the central and state level. In recent years, there has been a major emphasis on providing basic education for all children, which is a long-term answer to this social menace.
In 1988, the government of India launched the National Child Labour Project (NCLP). Initially, the scheme was implemented in nine districts with a high concentration of child labour. The scheme involves the establishment of special schools for child labour who are withdrawn from work.
A highly powerful body, the National Authority for the Elimination of Child Labour (NAECL) was established on September 26, 1994, headed by the Union Minister of Labour in the government of India.
There are credible efforts being made at the administrative level to eliminate the problem of child labour. Also, there are several voluntary organizations working for the rescue and rehabilitation of child labour in India.
Saathi’s unintended effort to fight against child labour:-
Saathi works towards empowering women in India by providing them with employment. By doing so we never knew we might be able to make an impact on children’s education so that they can study instead of earning for the family. One of the Saathi’s pad makers says, “By being financially independent they are able to provide better education to their children.” Saathi strongly believes that, if a woman is empowered and financially employed the education of children becomes better automatically as they can give a better life to their children and make them self depended. Mothers being independent empowers their children's education. This, in turn, ensures that no child serves tea or works in sweatshops or spends their precious learning years doing jobs. Our small step as a business which strives to make a difference will help in eradicating this evil from society, one pad at a time.
Tell us in the comment section what steps an individual should take to fight against child labour.
Click here to watch what a woman feels like to work with Saathi in Saathi’s short documentary.