HomeNewsPope Francis calls for action on World Day Against child labor

Pope Francis calls for action on World Day Against child labor

Pope Francis emphasized the inherent right of every child to dream and play, labeling the denial of such fundamental rights as a theft of their futures and an assault on humanity itself.

His comments were part of a conference addressing child labor, held on November 19, 2021, and resonate on June 12, the World Day Against Child Labor.

This year, the event marks the 25th anniversary of the Worst Form of Child Labor Convention, with the theme: “Let’s act on our commitments: End Child Labor!” 

Despite global agreements and efforts to combat this issue, nearly one in ten children worldwide are still engaged in labor, many under hazardous conditions.

Child labor, as defined by the International Labor Organization, involves work that deprives children of their childhood, potential, and dignity, and harms their physical and mental development. 

It includes conditions that are dangerous, disrupt schooling, or force children out of education prematurely. 

The victims are often from marginalized communities, including migrants, refugees, and trafficked children, who face amplified risks and violations.

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Trafficking remains a particularly vicious form of child labor. UNICEF reports that conflict, disaster, and poverty have forced many children from their homes, pushing them into labor markets where they face violence, abuse, and exploitation. 

Boys and girls are trafficked for different purposes, from sexual abuse to forced participation in armed conflicts.

Data indicates that between 2005 and 2022, over 105,000 children were recruited and used in hostilities, with actual figures likely much higher. These children miss out on schooling and basic health services, living under constant threat and discrimination.

Under the leadership of Pope Francis, the Catholic Church continues to advocate against child labor. “Children should be children,” the Pope reiterated during a General Audience on January 12, 2022. 

He described the grim realities of children forced to work in inhumane conditions, such as scavenging in garbage dumps.

On this World Day Against Child Labour, global leaders and organizations, including UNICEF and the International Labour Organization, reinforce their commitment to eradicating this issue. 

UNICEF states, “They shouldn’t have to miss school or be scared to visit the doctor. They shouldn’t be discriminated against because of where they come from. They should be able to feel at home, wherever they are and wherever home is.” 

Every child deserves the freedom to enjoy their childhood without fear, exploitation, or discrimination.

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