MANILA –The government intensified its fight against child labor on Thursday by launching three major initiatives –a comprehensive project to set up help desks for child laborers, a new project on child labor in gold mining, and a new child labor module in the conditional cash transfer program.
The National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), chaired by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Education (DepEd), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the International Labor Organization (ILO) and BanToxics launched the programs in Quezon City.
According to a 2011 survey on children, the country has some 2.1 million child workers. Findings of the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) in 2015 revealed that the Philippines has made significant advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. Despite progress, however, the enforcement of child labor laws remains a challenge.
“Child labor is complex and deeply rooted in poverty. Children suffer and risk their health or even their lives to work for their family’s survival. Ending child labor requires strong commitment and collective effort,” said Khalid Hassan, director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines who also managed projects to address child labor in Africa and Asia.
The Strategic Helpdesks for Information, Education, Livelihood and other Developmental Interventions (SHIELD) is the first comprehensive project of the DSWD on child labor. It will strengthen efforts at the local level, which will include help desks and a local registry on child labor for referral and support services. SHIELD will give priority to areas with a high incidence of child labor to create an impact and to make services more accessible to children and their families. Interventions will be based on data from the Child Labor Local Registry.
The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the conditional cash transfer program of the DSWD, will also launch and integrate a new module on child labor.
The 4Ps has a reach of about 4 million households from the poorest of the poor, who are often forced to involve their children in work to augment the family income. The 4Ps contributes to putting children in schools through its conditionality on education.
Being in school, however, is not an assurance that children will not engage in child labor. The child labor module will be part of the Family Development Sessions to raise awareness on child labor and the role of the family to prevent or end child labor, especially its worst forms.
CARING Gold is a new project implemented by the ILO and BanToxics, together with the DOLE and DENR and funded by the USDOL.
Child labor in mining is considered as a worst form of child labor but remains unregulated and unmonitored.
The project will address child labor in mining at its root cause, which is poverty and vulnerability. Interventions will include improving working conditions and providing support to establish models for operation that are legal and viable, as well as compliant with labor, environmental and health standards.
These initiatives support the Philippine Program against Child Labor 2017-2022 to withdraw one million children from child labor, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which calls to end child labor in all its forms by 2025.