The Ministry of Labour and Social Security on Friday, 26th November, 2021 concluded a workshop to validate a National Action Plan (NAP) for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, including Child Trafficking in Sierra Leone. With support from the International Labour Organization (ILO), the two-day workshop was held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Freetown.
Senior Labour and Employment Officer at the Ministry of Labour, Idrissa Dumbuya, while stating the purpose of the workshop explained that the child labour unit of the ministry undertook a review of the draft national action plan in February of last year. He said that the unit wanted the review process to have a national outlook; so they sought views, thoughts and ideas for the NAP by engaging stakeholders in different parts of the country. He said those ideas and thoughts on how to tackle the issues of child labour were compiled together to produce the NAP.
He said that the NAP presented a national and holistic picture of the worst forms of child labour and not just the ideas of the labour ministry.
“As a ministry, we believe in dialogue, so our social and implementing partners were deeply involved in the review process. Other MDAs working in child issues were also involved”, Mr. Dumbuya said. He added that a consultant was hired to put the document together, thus the validation workshop.
He entreated participants to put their best into the validation process so as to have a document that would not be for the shelves, adding that steps needed to be taken now to tackle the worst forms of child labour because “if we don’t, definitely our future is going to be questionable.”
The ILO Regional Director, Madam Vanessa Phala, said she was delighted to witness the fulfillment of the pledge that was made by the Government of Sierra Leone in the commemoration of the 2021 International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.
Two years ago, she recalled, the United Nations member states adopted a resolution that declared 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour. She said that the declaration was made because the challenges of child labour were a concern to the majority of countries and required very effective
The ILO Director furthered that the 2021 International Year was expected to provide crucial opportunities to accelerate action towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7.
“The Target 8.7 particularly speaks to ending child labour by 2025. We are in 2021, with only four years left to achieve this target. This means that whatever we have been doing we need to double, and in some instances triple our efforts”, she stated.
She said that she was positive that the effective implementation of the action plan would ensure the protection of children from all forms of abuse and exploitation in Sierra Leone.
The Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Security, Lansana Mohamed Dumbuya, in his statement on behalf of the Labour Minister, Alpha Osman Timbo, quoted a recent joint report from the ILO and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) as saying that there were “160,000,000 children globally at the beginning of 2020. 79,000,000 of that number were engaged in hazardous work, thereby stalling the global progress against Child Labour since 2016.”
“About 1,071,023 children between the ages of 15-17 years (54.9%) are found to be employed in Sierra Leone, according to Statistics Sierra Leone, and 895,428 (45.9%) children between ages 5-17 years were said to be engaged in child labour, whilst about 428,776 (22%) of children within the same age bracket were being engaged in hazardous work”, the Deputy Minister revealed, according to data.
However, he said that the country had made significant progress in the fight against child labour, despite the “gloomy picture.” He pointed out that key UN Conventions relating to the welfare of children had been ratified. Those conventions included “The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the ILO Minimum Age Convention 138 and the ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention 182.”
Mr. Dumbuya stated that several other laws and policies were also in place to ensure that the rights of children were recognized and guaranteed in every part of the Sierra Leonean society. He said that the establishment of the ILO Technical Support Office had helped to accelerate progress by providing the much needed technical and financial support for training in child labour issues, capacity development and pushing for the domestication and enactment of key child labour legislations.
He expressed appreciation to the ILO for its commitment and continued support towards the ministry and by extension, the Government of Sierra Leone, in ensuring that the development dreams of President Julius Maada Bio were realized.