Asia Regional Child Labour (ARC) Project

ILO Country Office for Pakistan hosted "Social Justice for All. End Child Labour!" Conference in Islamabad

The ILO Country Office for Pakistan, a leading global advocate for labour rights, successfully organized the "Social Justice for All. End Child Labour!" conference on 12 July, 2023 in Islamabad. The conference aimed to accelerate efforts towards the prevention and elimination of child labour, in alignment with the World Day Against Child Labour

Press release | Islamabad, Pakistan | 13 July 2023
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (ILO News) - The event was organized by ILO's Asia Regional Child Labour (ARC) Project, implemented with financial support of the United Kingdom, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office.

"All children have the right to a childhood filled with laughter, love, and dreams, not exploitation and labour. It is an injustice that deprives children of education, opportunity, and a decent future as adults”, Mr. Geir Thomas Tonstol, the Country Director of the ILO Office for Pakistan stated in his opening remarks. Emphasizing the paramount importance of promoting social justice, he stated that ending child labour is must for ensuring social justice for all.

Mr. Zulfiquar Haider, Federal Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest of the event. He remarked, "Child labour as a social evil and violation of child rights has widely persisted. The ILO and UNICEF's recent report in 2020 estimated 160 million children involved in child labour globally, with 79 million engaged in hazardous occupations. Eliminating this menace is undoubtedly a challenging task, given its complexities and intertwined issues. However, with consistent and concerted efforts, we can bring improvements in the lives of children."

A panel discussion titled "Role of Key Stakeholders Towards the Prevention and Elimination of Child Labour" featured esteemed panellists, including Ms. Ayesha Raza Farooq, Chairperson of the National Commission on the Rights of Child; Mr. Waqar Memon, General Secretary of the Pakistan Workers Federation; Mr. Nazar Ali, Secretary General of the Employers' Federation of Pakistan; and Ms. Shehla Qureshi, SSP Police, Sindh. The panel discussion delved into the crucial role of various stakeholders in combating child labour.

Mr. Ali Naqvi, a Social Development Adviser from the British High Commission, in his keynote remarks, appreciated the ARC’s project initiatives and unconventional partnerships, which eventually have amplified the outreach at grassroots level and facilitated in campaigning for the prevention and eradication of child labour in Pakistan.

The ARC Project launched three research reports including capacity assessment of law enforcement agencies on child labour; rapid assessments on child labour in waste picking, and automobile repair workshops. The project also screened the an animated video, featuring the working conditions and related hazards for children working at repair workshops and advocating “Say yes to education, end child labour”.

Representatives from Pakistan Girl Guides Association, Group Development Pakistan, Pakistan Boy Scouts Association, and Domestic Workers Union shared the emerging results and elements of sustainability, stemming through the interventions in the partnership with ILO. The event featured an inspiring good practice of Master Ayyub, who has been running Park School in Islamabad the last 35 years and educating poor children for involved in child labour. The event also shared another encouraging story of Mr. Meyer Abdul Haq, a brick kiln owner, who has established and running schools at brick kilns in Punjab to support education of children of brick kiln workers. Development Partners, Civil Society, Academia, and Media were actively involved, exemplifying the collaborative effort required to comprehensively address child rights. Their participation showcased diverse perspectives and expertise, contributing to a well-rounded and inclusive approach to promoting and protecting the rights of children.

The event brought together a diverse range of participants from various sectors, emphasizing the multi-dimensional nature of addressing child rights. Their collective presence reflects a shared commitment to ensuring a safe, nurturing, and inclusive environment for children in the country.

A captivating theatre performance by children served as the highlight of the event, shedding light on the experiences and challenges faced by child laborers. This artistic representation aimed to create awareness and inspire action to end child labour.

The distinguished guests reiterated the urgency of addressing child labour and emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts from various sectors to achieve the goal of ending child labour and promoting social justice.

The conference provided a platform for meaningful discussions and the exchange of ideas between government officials, experts, development partners, civil society, academia, and media. The event concluded with festive song performance, urging the stakeholders to play their individual and institutional role for reducing vulnerability to child labour and enhancing the protection of children against various forms of exploitation.