152 million in child labour around the world and 40 million in modern slavery

New data reveal that the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal Target 8.7, will not be achieved unless efforts to fight modern slavery and child labour are dramatically increased.

Press release | 20 September 2017
ILO News: New global research developed jointly by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Walk Free Foundation in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has revealed the true scale of modern slavery around the world. The data, released during the United Nations General Assembly, shows that more than 40 million people around the world were victims of modern slavery in 2016. The ILO has also released a companion estimate of child labour, which confirms that about 152 million children, aged between 5 and 17, were subject to child labour.

Child labour remains concentrated primarily in agriculture (70.9 per cent). Almost one in five child labourers work in the services sector (17.1 per cent) while 11.9 per cent of child labourers work in industry.

Out of 152 million children, 64 million girls and 88 million boys are subject to child labour and account for almost one in ten children around the world. The highest number of children aged 5 to 17 engaged in child labour were to be found in Africa (72.1 million), followed by Asia and the Pacific (62 million), the Americas (10.7 million), Europe and Central Asia (5.5 million) and the Arab States (1.2 million). Approximately one third of children aged 5 to 14 engaged in child labour are outside the education system. 38 per cent of children in hazardous work aged 5 to 14 and almost two-thirds of those aged 15-17 work more than 43 hours per week.

Here in Sri Lanka, the International Labour Organization (ILO) supported the Government of Sri Lanka to conduct a Child Activity Survey (CAS) in 2016. The Child Activity Survey estimated that children engaged in child labour form one percent of the total child population ages 5 – 17 years in Sri Lanka. In numbers that is 43,714 children in child labour out of which 39,007 children are engaged in hazardous form of work. Sri Lanka is committed to strengthen and accelerate action to end child labour, including in areas affected by conflict and disasters. As a major milestone in the effort, a National Policy on Ending Child Labour in Sri Lanka was launched in September 2017 by the President, His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena at a national event of his flagship programme “Let’s protect children” held in Kandy.

“The survey report coupled with efforts over the past 20 years by a wide variety of actors shows us the way forward to ending this scourge” said Simrin Singh, ILO Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives. It serves us inspiration that Target 8.7; “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms“ of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDSs) can indeed be achieved in Sri Lanka by 2030.