The theme for World Day against Child Labour for 2020 in the background of Covid-19 is now more crucial than ever! According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), there are about 152 million children globally who are engaged in child labour, 72 million of whom are in hazardous work. With the coronavirus pandemic set to lead the world into a recession, these children are now at an even greater risk of facing circumstances even more difficult and working longer hours.

World Day against Child Labour 2020 focuses on the impact of the crisis on child labour. The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic and labour market shock have had a huge impact on the lives of millions, and children are often the worst sufferers. This year, a virtual campaign is being organised jointly with the Global March Against Child Labour and the International Partnership for Cooperation on Child Labour in Agriculture (IPCCLA).

The Uttar Pradesh government is preparing to launch a scheme for children of labourers in the state, under which the children would be given financial assistance monthly to stop them from working as child labourers and instead focus on studies. The scheme, Bal Shramik Vidya Yojna, will be rolled out on June 12 to mark World Day Against Child Labour. Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Kumar Awasthi said Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath would launch the scheme by sending funds to around 2,000 people.

While there would be conditional cash transfer for child labourers, a higher amount would be set for girls to aid their studies and to keep them away from work. The CM also directed that development schemes of the Centre and the state government should be implemented, saying on one hand, this would provide employment to the labourers and workers, and on the other, it would help in ‘navnirman’ of Uttar Pradesh.

Priyank Kanoongo, Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights Kanoongo highlighted that it is crucial to use existing laws efficiently to address child labour, “We need to ensure that we are using the existing laws, not sitting and feeling helpless. The Number of FIRs filed so far is extremely poor compared to a large number of child labourers in the country. Therefore, it is everyone’s responsibility to report and file FIRs on child labour. I appeal to civil society organisations to help strengthen reporting mechanisms and compensation and rehabilitation schemes to address child labour in the country”.

Though child protection programming is vital to resolve the issue, CRY believes that the mechanism will be effective only when there is convergence among key departments of women and child development, education, labour, health and home affairs.

Under the over-two-month COVID-19 lockdown in Nepal, economic activities have plummeted leaving many jobless. On World Day against Child Labour, child rights activists expressed concerns that the economic downturn could force more children into child labour.