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European Union will continue to promote improved protection of children and elimination of worst forms of child labour: Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark

Islamabad, July 11, 2013 (PPI-OT): Ambassador -Gunnar Wigemark, Head of EU Delegation to Pakistan with children and other participants at the EU Funded Combating Abusive Child Labour (CACL-II) project event. Everyday around 115 million children are exposed to hazardous work around the globe, including 15.5 million children who are engaged in domestic work outside their own homes according to the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO).

Children are being denied their childhood including opportunities for education and other basic child rights. More than half of these 15.5 million children are engaged in hazardous forms of work, sometimes in exploitative situations of child trafficking – with their lives being endangered on a daily basis.

“The European Union will continue to promote improved protection of children and the elimination of the worst forms of child labour in its initiatives-in particular in the UN General Assembly, the Human Rights Council, and with the International Labour Organisation. Also in order to become a Generalized Scheme of Preference (GSP+) beneficiary country, it is crucial that Pakistan eliminates child and bonded labour especially its worst forms” stated the Head of European Union Delegation to Pakistan, Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark while speaking at an event organised by the ILO to launch research-based visual products on combating child labour. Visual products such as videos and documentaries were developed by the students of the mass media departments of seven universities in Pakistan as part of ILO’s Combating Abusive Child Labour (CACL-II) project.

“Our aim is creation of inspiration out of hopelessness and to request the authorities to provide better protection to the children. It is a great idea to involve institutions to spread awareness about this evil and to motivate young blood to stop child labour and save the future. Hitting the masses on social issues through media students is certainly a great and innovative idea” said Zikria Saleh, student of Islamic International University who won the first prize in documentary production.

Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Head of EU Delegation to Pakistan, speaks at an ILO organized event to launch research-based visual products against child labour Appreciating the Government of Pakistan and ILO’s efforts to combat abusive child labour through the CACL-II project, EU Ambassador Wigemark added that “The European Union supports the ratification of the ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers and has called on all Member States to ratify this Convention.” By citing the sustainability of the CACL-II project’s outcomes, Ambassador Wigemark also praised the Government’s initiative of launching a similar €1.5 million programme in Punjab province to replicate good results of CACL-II project. Realising the fact that no updated information on child labour is available (as the last child labour survey was carried out in 1996), the EU Ambassador indicted that work needs to be done to address this issue.

The EU-funded five-year, €5 million CACL-II project aims to contribute to the Government of Pakistan’s efforts towards eliminating child labour, including its worst forms. The project has three components: first, to develop a sustainable and holistic district model to reduce and gradually eliminate abusive child labour across sectors in two districts (Sahiwal and Sukkur in Punjab and Sindh respectively).

Integrated approach is used through involvement of all stakeholders at district level-parents, children, teachers, employers’ federation, workers’ federation, local NGOs and district government. Through the CALC II, some 6,800 children have been spared from worst forms of child labour from a target of 7,500, while over 1,700 younger siblings have been protected from hazardous labour.

Over 4,600 ex-child labourers and siblings are now mainstreamed into the formal education system. Depending on their age, these children are provided alternative opportunities of education and vocational training along with their families, who are also linked up with social safety nets, credit providers and health services.

Ambassador Wigemark gives away prizes to the documentary project competition winnersThe second component of the project has worked to develop the institutional and technical capacity of target district governments and labour departments at the provincial and federal level.

The government has assigned special staff for the established counter-child labour units whose capacities are strengthened through various planning and leadership trainings. Following the 18th Constitutional Amendment, provincial child labour units have supported the provincial labour departments in proposing reforms on the Employment of Children Act 1991 to be submitted to the provincial assemblies for legislation. Rapid assessment surveys on child labour have been conducted in 25 districts across Pakistan and occupational safety and health studies carried out in 22 sectors.

The third component of the project aims to expand the knowledge base on child labour and its worst forms with increased awareness to promote child labour friendly policies. The project has worked on creating awareness on child labour issues by involving the media and academia. Research studies have been conducted at university level on various child labour related issues and visual media products such as documentaries, short films and animation depicting effects of child labour on the children and society have been developed.

For more information, contact:
Ms Ayesha Babar
Press and PR Officer
Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan
Phone: +92-51-227 182 8
Fax: 92-51- 282 260 4
Email: Ayesha.Babar@eeas.europa.eu

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