ILO tasks panel on increasing investment in social protection
The International Labor Organization (ILO) has called on the Nigerian government to increase investment in social protection by improving fiscal space and legal framework to make the right to social protection a reality for all Nigerians including the children.
The ILO has also called for the establishment of universal child and family allowances and the extension of social protection to the informal and rural economy.
ILO Country Director in charge of Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, Sieria Leone and ECOWAS Liaison Office Vanessa Phala made the call during the media engagement held at the United Nations House in Abuja in commemoration of the World Day Against Child Labor 2022.
Phala also noted that governments around the world are facing a dire situation as 1.5 billion children around the world between the ages of 0 and 14 do not receive any family or family cash benefits, while more than 160 million children, or one child in 10 between the ages of 5 and 17, are still engaged in child labour.
She said, “Although in Nigeria, social protection has featured prominently in various national and state policy documents, development plans and budget allocations, coverage remains low.
“The latest ILO social security survey carried out in collaboration with the Government of Nigeria in 2019 showed that only 12% of children benefit from social protection through the home-grown school feeding program , without any income support in the form of child or family allowances.
“Working with our tripartite partners and a wider range of stakeholders on the Dutch government-funded ACCEL Africa project has shown us firsthand the plight of vulnerable Nigerian children forced by economic realities to work and support their families, in especially after huge job losses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In our cocoa growing and artisanal gold mining communities, we have observed the exposure of children to drug addiction, sexual exploitation and other social vices that could bring children into conflict with the law and limit their growth. . These children are often forced to engage intensively in manual farming and mining to the detriment of their health, education, social and emotional development. »
“For mining communities in particular, the presence of arms and ammunition in the scramble for resource control reduces safe spaces, exposes children to violence and fuels a cycle of crime by providing a constant pool of recruits for criminals from one generation to another. Next.”
She then charged: “We must realize that if we do not define and support the agenda on the dangers of child labour, stakeholders could delay taking the urgent and active steps needed to end it, thus prolonging concerns about insecurity over long periods.
“You must lead the coordinated global campaign to eliminate all forms of child labor by constantly informing and educating the public about the prevalence of child labor and the various interventions by government and other non-state actors .
“It is also important that you constantly monitor our production and supply chains, investigate sharp practices and report ethically, considering the best interests of the child as your contribution to social protection. and the campaign against child labour.
“In addition, we need to build the capacity of children of legal working age, rehabilitate existing school structures and provide learning tools or alternatives, especially for children who need vocational training in the informal sector. .
“Unions should emphasize the participation of children of legal working age (children aged 15-17). They should have a voice and participate in decision-making regarding their services and workplace well-being.
“We are working in partnership with the Government of Nigeria and its social partners to strengthen the social protection legal framework through capacity building of national legal drafters on the development of a National Social Protection Harmonization Bill , the review of the recently validated revised social protection policy, the extension of social protection protection to the informal economy.
“To maintain an enabling environment for the elimination of child labour, the ACCEL Africa project facilitated the development and validation of Nigeria’s National Policy and National Action Plan on the Elimination of Child Labor and forced labor in April 2021, with the support of the Minister of Labor and Employment in collaboration with the Minister of Women’s Affairs and members of the National Steering Committee on the Elimination of Child Labor in Nigeria.
“In addition, six states (Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ondo, Niger and Lagos) were supported to adapt the National Action Plan on the Elimination of Child Labor to the child labor contexts in their states.
“In a few months, through the ACCEL Africa project, we plan to distribute starter packs to more than 800 men and women entrepreneurs trained and mentored on the ILO Start Your Business (SYB) module, to help them bring their business ideas to life, grow and impact their communities.
“All participants were from our project communities in Ondo and Niger states, where raising awareness of the dangers of child labor leads to behavior change among community members.
“This is in addition to interventions reaching more than 1,409 children with various prevention, protection and withdrawal services. These children were supported with certain health and educational services, such as school registration or re-registration, school bags, school sandals, notebooks, textbooks, sandals and psychosocial support to those who are unfairly exposed to child labor and traumatized.
“We have also trained and certified 62 teachers, caregivers and other professionals to support children’s rights through education, the arts and the media using the ILO’s SCREAM module and with a team of intellectuals from the University of Ibadan, we are developing a program on the elimination of child labour.
“We have conducted several studies on the prevalence of child labour, a knowledge, attitude and practice survey of employers in Ondo, Osun, Lagos and Niger states; child labor guidance tool for businesses in Nigeria; rapid assessment of the existence of a child labor code of conduct and level of compliance by private sector organisations; situation analysis of the prevalence of child labor in the cocoa and ASM sectors; provide guidance for project interventions.
“In collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Labor and Employment and the Foundation for Child and Youth Welfare, the ILO has supported the compilation and simplification of existing national laws and policies on child labor and child protection.
“Furthermore, the capacity of over 600 stakeholders at national and state level has been strengthened to ensure the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) in the cocoa and ASM sectors, with training workshops training for agricultural extension officers, mine inspectors, labor officers, employers, journalists, National Guidance Agency staff, members of the National Steering Committee for the Abolition of Child Labor and media professionals.
“Being a major objective of the project, the participation of children has been constant, as evidenced by the first edition of the National Conference of Children on the Elimination of Child Labor held on June 16, 2021, with the participation of more than 9,000 children who joined meet him in person and virtually.
“Clearly, a lot is being done to ensure that Nigeria meets its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8.7 target, but there is still a lot of work to be done.”
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