Press Release

Immediate steps are needed to avoid falling further behind on fighting child labour

16 June 2021

The theme of the June 12th World Day Against Child Labour this year is “Act now: end child labour!

Urgent action is needed to eliminate child labour in all sectors of society. A recent global United Nations (UN) child labour report shows that progress has stagnated in the past years.

During the commemoration of the World Day Against Child Labour 2021 today in Lilongwe, United Nations Resident Coordinator Maria Jose Torres said that, despite several strides, there is an urgent need for all stakeholders, including national authorities, employers, trade unions, civil society, and local leaders, to step up efforts to end this human rights violation against children in Malawi.

“We have only four years left to go to achieve Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which calls for an end to child labour in all its forms by 2025,” said Torres. “New estimates on child labour call on us to take stock of where we stand in the global effort to end child labour as the current situation is alarming.”

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF, as co-custodians of SDG Target 8.7, launched new Global Estimates on Child Labour last week, showing that progress against child labour worldwide has stalled for the first time in two decades. Some 160 million children are in child labour globally, amounting to almost 1 in 10 of all children worldwide. Nearly half of all those in child labour are in hazardous work.

In Malawi, the most recent National Child Labour Survey, conducted in 2015, found that 38 percent of children aged 5 to 17 years are involved in child labour, amounting to 2.1 million children, more than half of whom are engaged in hazardous work. The proportion of working children no longer in school was noted to be higher for girls, and girls were more likely than boys to start working before the age of 10.

“As an Alliance 8.7 Pathfinder Country, Malawi is expected to go further and faster to achieve SDG Target 8.7. The UN stands ready to support Malawi to accelerate action to eliminate child labour in line with the country’s international commitments, including as a Pathfinder Country,” said Torres.

Deputy Minister of Labour Vera Kamtukule said government is taking necessary actions to end child labour.

“We are empowering our district and regional labour officers to ensure that they are going in all sectors to smoke out child labour and forced labour. We are doing this together with other stakeholders to ensure effective inspections,” said Kamtukule.

Several UN agencies are supporting government to eliminate child labour in Malawi. ILO is implementing the ACCEL programme to accelerate elimination of child labour in tea and coffee supply chains, as well as a project to address decent work deficits, including child labour, in the country’s tobacco sector. UNICEF is responding to child labour by supporting access to basic services, strengthening national child protection systems and promoting social change. FAO is working with communities to improve food security and livelihoods for an enabling environment that supports children’s access to education and contributes to sustainable reduction of child labour in agriculture. As many of the victims are recruited by human traffickers, UNODC is working with government to establish its domestic legal and policy framework on trafficking in persons, as well as providing training to key sectors, including judicial officers and criminal justice practitioners to identify, investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate involved in trafficking of children for labour exploitation.

The theme of the 2021 World Day Against Child Labour is “Act now: end child labour!

Immediate steps are needed to avoid falling further behind on fighting child labour


Phillip Pemba

Development Coordination Officer, Programme Communications and Advocacy

UN entities involved in this initiative

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
International Labour Organization
United Nations Children’s Fund
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Goals we are supporting through this initiative