Chilima makes a strong case on Ending Child Labour

By Kumbukani Phiri and Wadza Botomani

Vice President Dr Saulos Chilima has called for swift action to end all forms of child labour in line with the Buenos Aires Declaration for action to accelerate efforts to end child labour by 2025 and 2030 for forced labour.

Dr Chilima said this on Sunday in Durban, South Africa when he addressed the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour. The Vice President is representing President Dr Lazarus Chakwera at the conference.

“I believe that with the right mindset, we will achieve our goals. With the involvement and commitment of everyone, we can overcome child labour and forced labour decisively. Let there be no onlookers or bystanders. It’s action time,” he said.

Chilima with President Ramaphosa

Statistics produced jointly by International Labour Organisation and UNICEF show that globally about 160 million children were subjected to child labour at the beginning of 2020, with almost 9 million additional children at risk due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Chilima said Malawi is also not spared as an estimated two million children, aged between 5 and 15 are involved in child labour.

“We cannot, therefore, afford to watch and contemplate postponing ending child labour to a later date. Immediate action is required to reverse these trends,” Dr Chilima emphasised.

He informed the delegates that Malawi has ratified the relevant ILO Conventions including, all fundamental conventions, such as Convention 138 on the Minimum Age of entry into employment, as part of efforts to eliminate child labour.

“Corresponding legislation has been enacted in my country. We have the Employment Act aimed at regulating minimum standards of employment and prohibit child labour and forced labour,” he briefed the conference.

The Vice President said, more importantly, Malawi abolished the Tenancy Labour System due to its resemblance with forced labour or bonded labour, which he said was a crucial step towards the sustenance of the country’s efforts in the fight against child labour.

“Malawi makes an honest plea to the Member States here present, the entire UN system and other stakeholders, including the private sector – that with all our might, we should fight one war. A war against all unacceptable forms of work,” Dr Chilima pleaded.

He further said there was a need for quick interventions and policies to extend social protection coverage for children and their families; scale-up investment in free and good-quality education; promote the rights of children from birth to adulthood, and promote decent work for young people.

He then implored states and stakeholders to focus on interventions, especially in the Agriculture sector which accounts for 70% of child labour.

The conference will run from Sunday, 15 May to Friday 20 May 2022, however, Dr Chilima will return home on Tuesday, May 17 2022.