Abuja, October 22, 2020|
The ECOWAS Commission validated the report of the evaluation of the Regional Action Plan (RAP) for the elimination of child labour, especially the worst forms in West Africa from the 21st to 22nd of October 2020.
Cognisant of the challenges of child labour in the region, ECOWAS Ministers in charge of labour and employment in 2012 adopted the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan (RAP) for the elimination child labour, especially the worst forms (2012-2015). The goal of the Regional Action Plan was to eliminate the worst forms of child labour in West Africa by 2015, while working towards its complete eradication in the long term.
The report of the findings of the assessment was the focus of the two-day virtual meeting with ECOWAS Member states child labour focal points, representatives of workers and employers organisations, CSOs, media, and development partners (ILO, UNICEF, ICMPD and IOM).
In her welcome address, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne, underscored the importance of the meeting by highlighting that nearly 73 million children are in hazardous work that directly endangers their health, safety and moral development. In addition, she noted that about 48 million children aged 5-14 depend on labour for survival in West Africa alone.
The representative of the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations of Ghana, Mr. Peter Antwi, in his statement identified poverty, conflicts, political instability, weak educational systems and human capital development, as well as absence of effective child protection systems as major obstacles to the fight against child labour.
‘’I urge the Member states to create decent employment opportunities, maintain political stability and build quality educational systems for the development of the needed human capital for economic development,’’ he added stressing the need for the maintenance of peace and stability in the ECOWAS region without which children and women will bear the brunt of child labour.
According to the 2017 International Labour Organisation’s Global estimates of child labour, 152 million children (64 million girls and 88 million boys) are in child labour globally.
Mr David Dorkenoo, Officer-in-Charge, ILO Country Office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and Liaison Office for ECOWAS highlighted that Africa witnessed a rise in child labour during the 2012 to 2016 period, in contrast to the other major regions where child labour continued to decline, despite the number of targeted policies implemented by African governments to combat child labour.
Experts adopted the report of the findings of the evaluation of the implementation of the Regional Action Plan with amendments, and made key recommendations on concrete actions that can accelerate and scale-up interventions, with additional resources at country and regional levels, so as to meet SDG 8.7 to end all forms of child labour by 2025 and forced labour, trafficking and modern slavery by 2030.