* Government and its stakeholders urged to adopt the nation’s child labour policy
* So as to expedite the progress towards the elimination of child labour in the country
By Steven Mkweteza
At this year’s commemoration of World Day Against Child Labour which was held in Zomba District, Employers’ Consultative Association of Malawi (ECAM), said it is worried with the country’s slow efforts towards the elimination of the worst forms of child labour by 2025.
Vice-president for the association, Ivy Kwatiwani said, while significant progress has been made in reducing child labour over the last two decades, progress has slowed over time and it has even stalled during the period between 2016-2020.
She, however, called upon government and its stakeholders to adopt the nation’s child labour policy so as to expedite the progress towards the elimination of child labour in the country.
“While we commend government for its commitment in ensuring elimination of child labour, it is our sincere hope that the nation’s child labour policy will be adopted as soon as possible to address some of the challenges.”
She added that child labour in the country is denying children’s basic rights, saying its is alarming that instead of sourcing skilled labour, employers opt to hire children as cheap labour.
Among others, Kwatiwani, highlighted that her association has reviewed the employers’ guidelines on the elimination of child labor and employers’ code of conduct for its complete elimination.
In his remarks, project technical advisor for International Labour Organisation (ILO), Gracious Ndalama concurred with Kwatiwani on calls on government and stakeholders for an urgent and quick review of all existing programs on child labour elimination in the national action plans; national child labour policy and specific project initiatives.
Ndalama, however, commended government for ratifying the ILO Convention No. 138 on the minimum age for entry into employment and ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour ratified in 1999.
He said the country has put in place the normative framework necessary to protect its children from the scourge of child labour, whose commemoration theme against the practice for this year was ‘Universal Social Protection to End Child Labour” .
Child labour is widespread in Malawi with the most recent national child labour survey (NCLS 2015), showing that 38% of children aged 5-17 are involved.
Current global statistics indicate that 160 million children are still engaged in child labour — some as young as 5 years old.