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How companies can reduce Nigeria’s high rate of child labour – ILO

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has cited Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Human Rights due diligence as the key elements that companies must adopt to reduce the rising number of child labourers (workers).

Silvia Possenti, Supply Chain and Enterprises Officer for the Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chains in Africa revealed this at the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA)’s high advocacy dinner with chief executives on Monday.

During her presentation titled ‘Focusing Employers’’ CSR Initiatives towards Eliminating Child Labour, Possenti said CSR and human right due diligence are two components that are very important and need to be implemented.

“They’re very complementary between each other and thus need to be implemented together. Companies, through these instruments, can really make a difference in addressing the root causes of child labour.”

She also added that other areas in that companies can fight against child labour is to implement initiatives aimed at creating jobs directly or indirectly in the communities.

Develop projects aimed at transforming local raw materials on-site, participate in or set up professional capacity-building programs for young people in the community and support initiatives aimed at developing relationships with local Small Medium Enterprises and building their capacity.

Other solutions suggested by stakeholders are quality education, poverty elimination programs, training and creating awareness in the communities on the dangers of child labour.

Read also: NAWOJ calls for protection of children against all forms of harmful practices

Child labour can be defined as the exploitation of children through any form of work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and is mentally, physically, socially and morally harmful. Such exploitation is prohibited by legislation worldwide.

The various causes of child labour are poverty, lack of educational resources, Social and economic backwardness, Addiction, disease or disability etc.

According to ILO, Africa has the highest number of child workers with 72.1 million followed by Asia and the Pacific with 62.1 million, America has 10.7 million, Europe and Central Asia has 5.6 million and Arab states with 1.2 million.

And Nigeria which has the highest number of out-of-school children (18.5 million), data from the United Nations children’s fund makes it vulnerable to child labour.

As ILO shows that a bulk of the number of child workers in West Africa are from Nigeria with around 15 million making it the highest number in that region.

The number of working children in Nigeria has increased over the years and worsened by the COVID- 19 pandemic. This is in spite of Nigeria’s ratification of the ILO’s child labour convention 138 of the minimum age of admission to employment and convention 182 on the worse forms of child labour, says Taiwo Adeniyi, the president at NECA

The event also saw the launch of the Code of Conduct for Employers on child labour & Adapted International Organisation of Employers/ILO guides for businesses in Nigeria.

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