Background Material 10 June 2021

Child Labour Global Estimates 2020

This report from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provides updated estimates of child labour at a global and regional level.

As of 2020, 160 million children – 63 million girls and 97 million boys – were estimated to be in child labour globally. Nearly half of those children – 79 million – were in hazardous work.
Key findings from the 2020 global estimates include:

  • Global progress against child labour has stagnated since 2016: the percentage of children in child labour remained unchanged over the past four years
  • In Africa, both the number and percentage of children in child labour has increased since 2012. There are now more children in child labour in sub-Saharan Africa than in the rest of the world combined. In contrast, child labour prevalence has decrease in Asia and Latin America.
  • Child labour is far higher in rural areas: 122.7 million children living in rural areas are in child labour compared to 37.3 million children living in urban areas.
  • 70% of all children in child labour work in the agricultural sector, representing 112 million children.
  • The majority of all child labour, 83%, takes place within the family, mostly on the family farm or within family businesses.

The report calls for immediate steps to be taken to address the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Supporting children to get back into school, extending social protection to tackle poverty, promoting resilient rural livelihoods through income diversification are among those actions considered key, as is continuing to tackle child labour within global and domestic supply chains.

Read Child Labour Global Estimates 2020, trends and the road forward in full.

Read: ICI summary of UNICEF & ILO report “Child labour – global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward”

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