As child labourers grew by 160 million by the start of 2020 and the pandemic forced another 150 million into multidimensional poverty, Nobel laureates, child labour survivor-advocates, and youth activists on Wednesday together demanded the world leaders an end to child labour and child poverty through a dedicated, universal social child protection fund.
The appeal was sent out in the ‘International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour’ at a first of its kind virtual events, the ‘Fair Share to End Child Labour’ was hosted by Laureates and Leaders for Children and co-sponsored by the Government of Sweden, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the International Labour Organization.
The stage was set by Nobel awardee Kailash Satyarthi – last week made the global ambassador for SDGs – who said: “Laureates and Leaders has released a calculation. Just $52 billion can provide social protection to every child and pregnant woman in low-income countries. This amount is less than two days of Covid relief measures taken in G7 countries and equivalent to just 0.4 per cent spent in social protection programmes in Europe.”
Satyarthi’s idea of something like a Global Social Protection Fund was echoed by Sweden’s Prime Minister, Stefan Lofven; Director General, International Labour Organization (ILO), Guy Ryder; Fair Share Namibia Lead and former junior Mayor Ongwediva Town, Rebekka Nghilalulwa; International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) General Secretary Sharan Burrow; President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network Professor Jeffry Sachs among others.
US Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro spoke about the condition of poor children in her country.
Stating that “child poverty is a stain on the US,” DeLauro said, “This is a result of a policy choices 10 million children struggle against poverty in the USA.”
She also spoke about how it was recently that the USA started a child tax credit, a universal child allowance that is credited to a child’s parents’ account.
Honourary president of World Religion of Peace Bishop Gunnar Stalsett too lent his support for the cause.
The highlight of the event were small interventions by a child labourer survivor-advocate Khusboo Sharma (India), Founder of Street Beats Foundation and a survivor child soldier Wani Francis (South Sudan) and child labour survivor, Champa Kumari (India) and advocate Manan Ansari (India), who narrated their tales of survivals of either mining work or soldier as children and resolve to set free children like them still trapped in poverty and child labour.
Apart from these, the litany of speakers included Norway’s Minister for International Development, Dag-Inge Ulstein;; African Union Commissioner for Social affairs, Amira El Fadil; German Permanent State Secretary for Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Bjorn Bohning; 1996 Nobel Laureate Jose Ramos Horta; Assistant Director General for Education, UNESCO,Stefania Giannini; Deputy Director General of WHO, Zsuzsanna Jakab; Chair Alliance 8, 7 Anousheh Karvar; President, Robert F Kennedy Human Rights, Kerry Kennedy among others.
The two hour plus virtual event ended with an emotional appeal by Satyarthi. Reminding the world about how everything is globalised, technology, businesses, markets, he said: “This is the time to globalise compassion for our children, time to globalise morality, globalise justice, this is the time to globalised our responsibility for our children and this is the time to globalise accountability among each other.”