Youth leaders across Africa converged in Dar-es-Salaam to commemorate the Day of the African child the week that just ended. This year’s commemoration comes amid a sharp rise in the number of African children currently under forced labor. At the start of 2020, the number of children forced to work across the continent stood at 92.2 million, up from 72.1 million in 2019.
While child labour in every other region in the world has decreased, the massive rise in Africa means that globally, child labour had increased even before the pandemic. The International Labor Organization (ILO) also projects a worldwide increase in child labour between 2020 and 2022 of 8.9 million as a result of the global pandemic.
According to the East African Coordinator of the 100 Million Organization Ms. Winnie Nyandiga, Kenya is among countries that have made some good progress in fighting the scourge of child labor- thanks to strong education policies in the country. She however warns, full elimination of child labor in Kenya greatly depends on the government’s efforts in informal urban areas and semi-arid counties.
“In Kenya, we have some good progress in fighting the scourge of child labour as a direct result of strong education policies. However, children living in our rural and informal urban communities have yet to see the benefit. If we want to end child labour in Kenya, we must seriously increase our efforts in informal urban areas arid- and semi-arid counties,” the Gender and Youth activist said.
This year’s June 16th commemorates 45 years since brave students led the 1976 Soweto Uprising. It is the inspiration behind African youth activists calling out any kind of discrimination taking away the childhoods of 92 million children in the continent, and are demanding stern action to end child labour.
As part of the Fair Share to End Child Labour campaign, youth activists in Cameroon, Namibia, Malawi, Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Togo, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania have resolved to assembled national coalitions of civil society and grassroots organisations to fight for national action to end child labour in their countries.
Currently, youth activists working under the Fair Share banner are supported by 100 Million, a youth-led campaign that unites activists worldwide for the rights of every child to be free, safe, and educated- with significant leadership from African youth leaders.