COVID-19 has exposed and worsened the pre-existing inequalities in our world. While this virus does not differentiate between nationalities, religions, or cultures, it is most adversely impacting those who are already marginalised, especially the world's most vulnerable children.
The COVID-19 pandemic risks delaying efforts, or even undoing the progress of past efforts, to end injustice against children if we do not act fast and act NOW! That's why we, the All-Africa Students Union, have joined hands with other youth-led organisations like the European Students Union, Education International, Organisig Bureau of European School Students Union and the Commonwealth Students Association; through the 100 Million Campaign's initiative (1 in 5 Campaign) to demand justice for the 20% of the world's children who live on 2 US Dollars or less a day.
As we commemorate the World Day Against Child Labour 2020 (June 12, 2020), which has been set aside to address the crisis of child labour globally, we come together as young leaders to ask that world leaders must wake up to the threat that COVID-19 poses to millions of children who could be forced out of school and into work by this global crisis.
World leaders have already committed to ending child labour by 2025. Yet even before COVID-19, progress on reaching this goal had slowed and it looked unlikely to be achieved. In fact, in West Africa, the number of children engaged as child labourers in the cocoa industry has risen in the last 10 years. With an estimated 152 million children currently in child labour, 72 million in work classed as 'hazardous' - work that is likely to harm their health, safety or morals, or could even lead to their death - and almost half aged between 5 to 11 years, our collective failure to end child labour should shame us all.1 As if this scale of this injustice wasn't high enough already, the socio-economic consequences of this global health crisis risks pushing millions more vulnerable children into child labour and out of education if we do not act fast.
For example, the impact of this pandemic is likely to lead to more children dropping out of school and joining their parents in the farms, market places, etc. in a bid to make ends meet. Estimates suggest that 42-66 million children could fall into extreme poverty as a result of the crisis this year, with lockdowns, quarantines and extended periods of isolation causing so many individuals to lose their jobs or use all their savings, families may resort to sending their children to work simply to keep food on the table. This is indefensible considering that trillions of dollars have been committed by world leaders in response to COVID-19, and if marginalised children and their families were given a fair share of these resources for once, it is also entirely preventable.
We are asking all other young people, and our elected representatives, around the world to stand together in solidarity in pressing home the demands to secure an opportunity and hope for a better future for all children around the world. Bring an END to child labour, now more than ever!
Join our online campaign today by using these hashtags: #WDACL2020 #JusticeForEveryChild #HandsUpforthe1in5
Will you join us to demand justice for these children?