Child labour is common in the tobacco industry
* Corporate social responsibility is a tool that could eliminate child labour in the country
* While significant progress has been made in reducing child labour over the past years
* The progress has been slowed due to poor participation of the corporate world in the fight at the grassroots level
By Steven Mkweteza
Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (ECAM) says the country stands to eliminate all forms of child labour if the corporate world take the leading role in the fight against the vice.
The association president, Annie Chavula told journalists in Blantyre that corporate social responsibility (CSR) was a tool that could eliminate child labour in the country.
“We are, therefore, calling upon the employers in the corporate world to willingly make the commitment and pledge on supporting activities to address the root causes of child labour and support the prevention of children from being engaged in child labour through the memorandum of understandings, private-public partnerships, that addresses educational communities,” she said.
Chavula said while significant progress has been made in reducing child labour over the past years, the progress has been slowed due to poor participation of the corporate world in the fight at the grassroots level.
Among others, Chavula disclosed that the association has discovered that the child labour was still rampant in the tobacco and tea growing districts of the country, saying interventions have been employed to address such malpractices in those districts.
Chavula said they have been implementing a 21-month acceleration action for the elimination of child labour-Africa project in those districts aimed at addressing the vice.
“We are targeting five districts in the country such as Thyolo, Mulanje, Mzimba, Ntchisi and Chitipa, where the worst forms of all child labour are being practised. We also intends to promote adopting a school program amongst its affiliates,” she said.
Through the ACCEL project, ECAM has reviewed and updated the employers code of conduct and employers guide
in the elimination of child labour as well as developed a training manual for employers which have trained several employers.
On the other hand, Chavula disclosed that her association will once again this year award employers that have displayed best practises and eliminate child labour in the country.
Current global statistics indicate that 160 million children are still engaged in child labour — some as young as 5 years old.
Child labour is widespread in Malawi with the most recent national labour survey (NCLS 2015), showing that 38% of children aged 5-17 are involved in child labour.
ECAM was established to promote, protect and give guide the interest of employers in the country under Labour Relations Act of 1996.