Labour, Human Services Ministers say stakeholders must partner to end child labour

Minister of Labour, Hon. Joseph Hamilton and Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Hon. Dr. Vindhya Persaud on Friday called on stakeholders to collaborate to  end child labour in Guyana.

The appeal was made during the launch of World Day Against Child Labour which was tehmed, “Act Now, End Child Labour.”

Minister of Labour, Hon. Joseph Hamilton

Minister Hamilton said his Ministry is leading efforts to end child labour by 2025, especially in rural communities where this matter is prevalent.  

“We cannot allow the fight against child labour to regress. The COVID-19 pandemic is having a huge impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. Unfortunately, children are often the first to suffer and this crisis can push vulnerable children into child labour.

The elimination of child labour in all its forms is essential, and a priority for the Government of Guyana. It believes that the time has come to end child labour and therefore, it is time to accelerate the pace of the progress that we have made.”

Subsequently,  he said private and public organisations, trade unions, and civil society stakeholders must band together to protect children from unfair circumstances.

“Child labour is a complex phenomenon that cuts across policy boundaries and cannot be seen in isolation from the other sectors.

In addition, it is proposed to promote advocacy to increase awareness of child labour by conducting sensitisation training, pledges, Memoranda of Understanding media campaigns, and promoting legislative reforms that will help to eliminate child labour in Guyana,” Minister Hamilton said.

This, he added, is in keeping with the observances for 2021, the ‘International Year of the Elimination of Child Labour,’ which will move the country one step closer to achieving its 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

According to the ILO-UNICEF 2021 report, 8.2 million children between the ages of five and seventeen are engaged in child labour in Latin America and the Caribbean.

While most of these children are male, about 33 per cent are girls.  Some 48.7 per cent of cases of child labour are in the agricultural sector with over 50 per cent of the children engaged in hazardous work. It is predicted that child labour will increase by 8.9 million by 2022.

Meanwhile, Human Services Minister said there needs to be a collective approach by relevant stakeholders to eliminate child labour.

Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Hon. Dr. Vindhya Persaud

“It is good to have children involved in chores at home. It is good to give them a sense of discipline and responsibility, but from the time it moves to force… exploiting them and putting them in the labour force at a tender age when money is involved … and the deviation becomes a part of the equation, that is when it becomes wrong.

A section of the gathering

It is a crime. It leads to poverty, it leads to deprivation of education, it leads to social exclusion, it leads to psychological trauma and harm, and it can lead to the worst forms of abuse of children,” Dr. Persaud said.

The Ministry will host a month-long series of panel discussions, public sensitisation and awareness programmes through radio and television interviews, as well as the distribution of brochures and training sessions.Additinoanlly, UNICEF Guyana, Deputy Representative, Mr. Irfan Akhtar said the entity is working to eliminate child labour which continues to persist in Guyana and around the world.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Deputy Representative of Suriname and Guyana, Mr. Irfan Akhtar

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