Punjab govt in collaboration with UNICEF plans to establish child labor councilBreaking

May 15, 2024

The provincial government has unveiled plans to establish a dedicated council aimed at addressing the alarming rates of underage work within the region. This initiative comes amidst growing concerns raised by the National Commission for Human Rights and UNICEF Pakistan, urging a concerted effort to combat the scourge of child labor. With Punjab's population surpassing 12.76 million, a staggering 44% of which comprises individuals under 18 years old, the need for decisive action has never been more pressing. Shockingly, recent statistics from the Punjab Child Labor Survey 2019-20 reveal a disturbing uptick, with child labor rates soaring to 13.4% among 5 to 14-year-olds and 16.9% among 5 to 17-year-olds. This surge in child labor rates underscores a concerning trend, challenging the government's purported strides in curbing this societal blight.

Addressing these troubling figures, the National Commission for Human Rights has rallied key stakeholders, including government departments and NGOs, to devise comprehensive strategies for combating child labor.Nadeem Ashraf, head of the National Commission for Human Rights in Punjab, emphasized the need for a nuanced approach, asserting that mere punitive measures are insufficient in tackling the root causes of child labor. He advocates for a collaborative effort involving government bodies and stakeholders to formulate effective policies and initiatives. Central to this approach is the proposed establishment of a provincial-level council, to be chaired by the Chief Minister of Punjab, tasked with coordinating efforts across relevant departments. This council aims to streamline policy implementation and foster greater synergy in combating child labor.

UNICEF Pakistan representative, Farah Ilyas, underscored the significance of policy interventions in combating child labor, highlighting ongoing collaborative efforts to pilot eradication projects in select districts of Punjab.Echoing these sentiments, Iftikhar Barak, head of Search Forests, stressed the critical link between poverty and child labor, calling for targeted interventions to uplift vulnerable communities and equip them with essential skills. As Punjab grapples with dwindling financial allocations for vocational programs, officials emphasize the imperative of sustainable funding to bolster skill development initiatives and alleviate poverty-induced vulnerabilities. Amidst these concerted efforts, the proposed child labor council stands as a beacon of hope, signaling a collective resolve to safeguard the rights and well-being of Punjab's youth.

Credit: Independent News Pakistan