COVID-19 has plunged the world into a crisis of unprecedented scope and scale. Undoubtedly, restoring the global health remains the first priority, but the strict measures required are resulting in massive economic and social shocks. During Covid-19, there has been a steep rise in the level of unemployment as a result of which there is an increased financial crisis in the families which have adversely affected the poor sections of the society. Some families have even fallen below the poverty line during the pandemic only due to fall in income. As lockdown, quarantine, physical distancing and other isolation measures to suppress transmission continue, the global economy has plunged into a recession. The harmful effects of this pandemic will not be distributed equally.
The pandemic Covid-19 has been widening its scope with an effort to leave no part or sphere of society to be unaffected. But the more affected sectors or sections of the society would be and are the one who were already in a vulnerable situation and thus are disadvantaged by them which make them severely prone to the ill effects and the havoc caused by the pandemic. The pandemic has been a hard blow to the economy of countries in the way that it has led to economic instability through disruption in supply chains, deep fall in economic activities along with deteriorating health implications. It has hit the employment levels severely especially in countries which are highly dependent on its labour. One of such already disadvantaged sphere of world is the menace of Child Labour.
The time when these children should have spent time playing, studying, being nurtured, they are being forced to lose the liveliness of their childhood to the dark and perils of child labour. This is majorly due to the dilemma where their parents are made to choose between the education of their child and survival of their family, where undoubtedly the latter takes precedence over the other.
COVID-19 has a serious impact and can have devastating consequences for children and their rights in the long- and medium-long term. Child labour is a complex issue involving various social, economic and political issues, such as poverty, lack of access to good education, weak enforcement of labour laws, lack of empowerment of women, and insufficient social protection for the poor. All these causes are greatly amplified by the global pandemic. Millions of families in emerging and developing countries work as day labourers in the informal sector (like rickshaw pullers, construction workers, street vendors, workers from small informal factories, etc.). They, in particular, have lost their income through the global lockdown and the overwhelming effects of the pandemic. They often cannot count on unemployment benefits or food aid. Acute loss of income means that families are less able to afford basic necessities (such as food, rent) – leaving no money for health care or education for their children. Also in the formal sector, factories closing down in countless countries has led to massive layoffs and loss of income, with all the consequences for the millions of workers and their families.
Elimination of Child Labor has always been a target or a goal across the globe for which various organizations and countries have collaborated with each other by forming conventions, treatises, like Convention the Rights of the Child, ILO etc.
It is clear that a single organisation cannot solve a challenge of this complexity and scale alone. Long-term collaborations throughout the value chain are required. We need both local and international companies, civil society organisations and governments, each within its own capabilities and responsibility. This means that internationally operating companies must continue to invest in identifying and investigating supply chains and the potential risks of child labour.
Major risks during this pandemic are those where child labour and child trafficking were already common before corona. The identification of these types of hotspots will make more targeted interventions possible. A next step is to start up a dialogue with suppliers in high-risk countries to understand the challenges of the crisis and to encourage them to make child protection a priority. They can influence their suppliers and work with them and other parties to protect children. Child labour will not disappear by introducing a ban or by diverting to another supplier. It is important to address underlying root causes such as low income of parents, lack of access to education, traditions and customs, and inequality between boys and girls. A company cannot do this alone, but it can play an important role.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.
We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge