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ILO urges media practitioners to combat child labour

by Haruna Gimba
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By Muhammad Amaan

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has urged journalists to create awareness to combat the menace of child labour in the country.

Dr Vanessa Phala, ILO Country Director for Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone, said this at a three-day Communication Training Workshop for Media Practitioners on Friday in Akwanga, Nasarawa State.

The workshop on the elimination of child labour, was organised by ILO, funded by the U.S. Department of Labour through the Action against Child Labour in Agriculture in West Africa (ACLAWA) project, and the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

Dr Phala, represented by Dr Agatha Kolawole, Project Coordinator of ILO’s ACLAWA, said child labour had cast a long shadow across Nigerian communities, particularly within the agricultural sector.

According to her, this is driven by poverty; families often rely on children to contribute to the family’s well-being and survival.

“Children often have to work under hazardous conditions, sacrificing their education, health and childhood for meagre wages.

“This not only violates their fundamental rights but also hinders their potential and perpetuates cycles of vulnerability, “she said

She said that the 2021 Global Child Labour report released by ILO and UNICEF, indicated a global increase of child labour prevalence by 8.4 million to reach a staggering 160 million.

She said globally, the agriculture sector accounts for 70 per cent of child labourers.

According to her, nearly 28 per cent of children aged five to 11 years and 35 per cent aged 12 to 14 years in child labour are out of school.

Phala said that the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) launched the Nigeria Child labour survey report conducted in 2022 which corroborates the global trend.

She said the media plays a pivotal role in combating child labour by raising awareness and mobilising public opinion against this pervasive issue.

“Through investigative journalism, documentaries and news reports, the media sheds light on the often hidden and harsh realities faced by child labourers around the world.

“By bringing these stories to the forefront, the media educates the public and policymakers about the scale and severity of child labour, thereby creating a sense of urgency and a call to action.

“This heightened awareness is crucial for fostering a societal consensus that child labour is unacceptable and must be eradicated,” she said.

She said media coverage can pressure governments and corporations to implement and enforce stricter laws and policies to protect children from exploitation.

Phala added that in addition to raising awareness, the media serves as a platform for advocacy and education, empowering communities to take a stand against child labour.

She commended the United States Department of Labour for funding the ACLAWA project.

Mrs Tessy Odoh, Head, Child Labour, Forced Labour, Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Unit, Inspectorate Department, Ministry of Labour and Employment said the training was apt.

Odoh said that the Federal government had put in place some policies to mitigate the menace of child labour.

She said that Nigeria had ratified and domesticated the ILO conventions 182, 138, 29, among others.

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