Although serious challenges remain in Myanmar’s fight against child labour, significant progress has been made over the years. Find out more about the major milestones reached so far, including passing the Child Rights Law by the parliament and the landmark ratification of 2 ILO core Conventions (138 and 182) to protect children.
July 1991: Myanmar ratifies the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty which sets out the fundamental political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of all children. The Convention highlights children’s right to protection from discrimination, their right to survival and development, and their right to be heard.
December 2013: The elected Government of Myanmar ratifies the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, No. 182 – one of eight fundamental ILO conventions – which commits the country to taking immediate action to prohibit and eliminate any form of child labour that is likely to harm children’s physical, mental and moral development.
December 2013: The ILO’s Myanmar Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour is established with funding from the US Department of Labor. Its aim is to establish a comprehensive, inclusive multi-stakeholder response to reducing child labour in Myanmar by increasing awareness and knowledge of the issue, improving legislation and strengthening national and local capacity.
September 2015: Myanmar joins all UN Member States in adopting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. SDG Target 8.7 calls upon countries to take immediate and effective measures to “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.”
August 2016: With the support of the ILO, the Government of Myanmar publishes its first comprehensive survey of the labour force in 30 years, including, for the first time, key data on child labour with information on the age groups, regions and sectors worst affected. The Labour Force Survey, including data on child labour, is now captured yearly.
2016: The Factory Act (1951) and the Shop and Establishment Act (1951) are amended and the minimum age to work is raised to 14 years old, as per International Labour Standards. 2016 also marks the first steps towards developing the Hazardous Work List and Myanmar’s first National Action Plan on Child Labour
February 2018: With the assistance of the ILO, the Government of Myanmar develops and begins implementation of the Phase I of its first National Action Plan (2018 – 2033) to eliminate child labour and its worst forms. The Myanmar National Committee for the Eradication of Child Labour is also established, with representatives from key ministries, workers and employers’ organizations, as well as civil society organizations.
January 2019: The National Committee approves and begins implementing the National Action Plan to end child labour.
July 2019: Myanmar enacts the new Child Rights Law, officially defining anyone under the age of 18 a child and guaranteeing all children in Myanmar the fundamental right to register at birth – a stepping stone to other rights such as the right to health, education and protection. The Law also establishes a minimum age of marriage (18 years) and employment (14 years), prohibits all forms of violence against children, and offers additional protection to children in the justice system and in the context of armed conflict.
March 2019: The Government of Myanmar passes a new law on Occupational Safety and Health, indicating a landmark commitment to introduce health and safety standards to promote safe and secure workplaces for all workers.
December 2019: A three-year ILO Myanmar pilot programme in Yangon, Ayeyarwady and Mon state is shown to have reduced child labour by 65% and decrease in hazardous child labour by 51% in beneficiary communities.
June 2020: The elected Government of Myanmar ratifies ILO Minimum Age Convention No. 138, establishing a minimum age (14 years) under which education is compulsory and no one is permitted to work in any occupation, except light work and artistic performances. The Convention also prohibits hazardous work for anyone under 18-years-old.
June 2020: As the COVID-19 pandemic causes serious health implications and economic damage across Myanmar and globally, many families’ livelihoods are at risk and the ILO and UNICEF join forces to warn that progress tackling child labour could be reversed.
October 2020: The ILO and the Government of Japan partner on a project to reduce the worst forms of child labour in agricultural communities.
January 2021: Countries around the world, including Myanmar begin marking the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, joining the ILO and partners in stepping up efforts to eradicate forced labour and child labour, and drawing global attention to the issue.
Set Back / Reverse
February 2021: The ILO Director-General calls on Myanmar to respect freedom of association and restore democratic order in the wake of the military takeover that has sparked widespread demonstrations across the country. UNICEF and ILO underscore the importance of protecting children from violence, arbitrary arrest and child labour.