International Labour Organisation Office for Pacific Island Countries Director, Matin Karimli says the COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional poverty and may reverse years of progress in the fight against child labour.
While speaking at a workshop on “Taking the Next Steps to Eliminate Child Labour in Fiji - the country outlook and the way forward”, Karimli says Fiji has a good background and achieved serious success in the elimination of child labour.
He says this is due to the effective collaboration on the implementation of the ILO project “Tackling Child Labour through Education Programme” from 2008 to 2017 in Fiji.
Karimli says child labour still exists in Fiji in-spite of efforts as it is an immensely complex issue and cannot be made to disappear at once.
He adds school closures have aggravated the situation and many children are working to contribute to the family income.
Karimli further says the pandemic has also made women, men and children more vulnerable to exploitation.
He says regular and continuous efforts are required to eliminate child labour.
Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mereseini Vuniwaqa says the Fijian government in its pledge to eliminate child labour has formulated a National Child Labour Policy and reviewed the current National Employment Policy.
Vuniwaqa says the government has also formulated Paperless Labour Inspection Program and finalized the National Occupational Health Services Strategic Plan.
She adds we all have to make it our business to ensure children are in schools and not engaging in labour as providing for the family is only the responsibility of adults and not children.
Vuniwaqa further says if we stay true to our pledge as a nation, we will not only improve the lives of our children today but also secure the lives of future generations.
2021 is the International Year of the Elimination of Child Labour which aims to mobilize efforts and encourage legislative and practical actions to eradicate child labour worldwide.
Almost 100 million children have been removed from child labour over the past 20 years through the global action, and 152 million children are still in child labour.
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