Child labour cases are rising, with the Covid pandemic threatening to intensify the effects on the economy.
This was shown in a joint report published last week by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund.
In line with this, the Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (Ecam) in partnership with ILO last week set a taskforce to work towards combating the vice in the country where they also pledged full support towards elimination of child labour in all sectors of the economy.
The taskforce will promote child labour elimination policies and practices across the private sector.
Members forming the taskforce include NBS Bank, Tea Association of Malawi, PTC, Project Innovation Centre, Kasinthula Cane Growers Ltd, Save the Children, Mzuzu Coffee, Malawi Institute of Education, Nasfam and the Tobacco Processors Association, among others.
This comes at a time the United Nations General Assembly declared 2021 the international year for the elimination of child labour, as a call to stakeholders to pledge action against these practices.
ILO Senior Project Officer Dylan Van Tromp said child labour had a detrimental impact on the national development agenda.
“It’s incompatible with Malawi 2063.How can you have a skills-based economy and reach middle income status as a nation, with fields, communities, districts and villages replete with child labour?
“Child labour is detrimental to National Development and to the economy; this matters to employers because you need a skilled workforce to achieve your goals as businesses, Malawi needs this to achieve its goals as a country and child labour will corrode the pipeline of talent,” Van Tromp said.
Ecam Executive Council Member Annie Chavula said the Covid pandemic has, to an extent, pushed child labour cases up.
“Because of households wanting to survive, they have now involved their children to work so that they bring extra income to the home, which we are coming against to say that the children should go to school and not be bread-makers,” Chavula said.
The most recent National Child Labour Survey conducted in 2015 found that 38 percent of children between the ages of five and 17 were involved in child labour.