After years of organising public awareness programmes and implementing stricter rules and regulations, Nepal has seen a decrease in child labour in the past two decades. However, the Nepal Child Labour Report 2021, which was jointly released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Nepal and Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), suggests that there still is a lot more that needs to be done.
The report highlights key data and analysis crucial to end child labour in the country, and reveals how the progress in human development indicators has a direct impact on the status of child labour.
The report’s arrival marks an important year as 2021 has been designated as the ‘International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour’ and Nepal is one of the pathfinder countries of the Alliance 8.7 that is working to accelerate progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 (1). Though Nepal has ratified most of the key international conventions that prohibit child labour and its worst forms, the considerable number of working children and child labour shows a gap of proper implementation of laws and policies to eliminate child labour.
As per the report, among seven million children between the ages of 5 and 17 in Nepal, 1.1 million children (15.3 per cent) were found to be engaged in child labour, a significant decline in child labour in comparison to 2008 (1.6 million).
“There has been a decline in child labour in hazardous occupations by two-third in Nepal, a significant progress in a decade. However, it’s high time that we take on a coordinated approach to implement laws and policies to fill the existing gaps on child labour and child protection in the country,” said Richard Howard, Director of ILO Country Office for Nepal.
Agriculture has been identified as the sector with highest number of child labour. Among the total children engaged in child labour, about 87 per cent are engaged in the agriculture sector while 13 per cent are in other sectors. The highest child labour prevalence has been found among Dalit community (19.4 per cent), and Karnali Province has the highest incidence (24.6 per cent).
The country has recently approved the National Master Plan (NMP)-II on Child Labour (2018 – 2028) that aims to amend and formulate national child labour policies and legislations based on evidences.
The study reveals that child labourers in urban areas (3.3 per cent) seem to be involved more in hazardous occupations in comparison to the child labourers in rural areas (2.9 per cent). It also reports that female children are more likely to be engaged in child labour (17 per cent) than male (14 per cent).
One of the key findings of the report suggests that parental education, wealth and assets seem to have significant impacts on children’s involvement in child labour. Therefore, addressing Nepal’s human development is instrumental in addressing child labour in the country.
Child labour prevalence is 4.4 per cent for parents with at least the intermediate level education followed by secondary level (grade 9 and 10) education (10.4 per cent) and lower secondary level (grade 6, 7 and 8) education (12.9 per cent).
The report was published with financial support from the British government through the ILO-FCDO Asia Regional Child Labour Programme (ARC), which intends to reduce vulnerability to child labour and enhance protection of children from exploitation in Nepal.