FG launches IYECL, validates national policy on child labour, national action Plan 2021-2025

AS part of global action to accelerate the fight against child labour, the Federal Government has launched the 2021 International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour (IYECL).

The event was to commemorate the formal launch and the implementation of the action pledges made by Nigeria at the global launch of IYECL in January this year.

In a keynote address, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said with the launch, all is set for the implementation of the action pledges.

The Minister said: “All is now set to take immediate steps to implement the action pledges and other activities aimed at eliminating child labour in order to achieve the target of having a society free of child labour and other forms of modern slavery by 2025.”

Ngige noted that the UN General Assembly had in July 2019 declared 2021 as the: “International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour”, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) was mandated to take the lead in implementing it.

The declaration, he said, “was a call for an accelerated pace of progress at all levels in the global fight against child labour, through practical and innovative actions, and awareness creation programmes at global, regional and national levels.”

He explained that at the African regional launch of IYECL held on March 31, 2021, Nigeria also demonstrated her readiness to shift from commitment to action in achieving the African Union (AU) agenda.

The minister pointed out that the action pledges presented by Nigeria at the international launch of IYECL, prioritized “key activities towards the achievement of target 8.7 of the SDG, which seeks to end child labour, forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking by 2025.”

According to him, the pledges include the validation of the second cycle of the national policy on the elimination of child labour and its national action plan, before the end of February.

Ngige noted that this pledge had been achieved already as “the reviewed National Policy on Child Labour and the National Action Plan for the Elimination of Child Labour (2021-2025) was validated earlier today.”

Other pledges include the development of a Child Labour/Forced Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) in supply chains, which was started in 2020 and would extend to the end of 2021.

Another pledge, he said, is “Rapid Result Cash Register (RRCR) launched on 19 January 2021 for four million persons of urban poor and vulnerable people”, among other pledges.

The Minister observed that though considerable milestones had been achieved in combating child labour and all forms of modern slavery in Nigeria, progress had been rather slow and unequal nationwide.

He, therefore, enjoined all stakeholders and members of the steering committee to join forces in executing the action pledges by translating the commitments to concrete actions in order to achieve target 8.7 of the SDG.

The Director, ILO Country Office, Vanessa Phala, commended Nigeria for operationalizing one of the action pledges it made at the global launch of the 2021 IYECL in March.

Phala said the implementation of the pledges required the collective action of all the stakeholders.

She pledged the support of ILO to all its tripartite partners and all other relevant stakeholders in the fight against child labour.

Present at the launch were the Minister for Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen; Ministers for Federal Capital Territory, Mines and Steel Development, and Agriculture and Rural Development, represented; Trade Union Congress President, Quadri Olaleye; representative of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), among others.

Meanwhile, the federal government has begun the process of validating two very important documents. The first is the National Policy on Child/Forced Labour, and the second, the National Action Plan (NAP) on the Elimination of Child/Forced Labour in Nigeria (2021-2025).

The process was flagged off at a workshop in Abuja, by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr Yerima Peter Tarfa, who described the validation process as part of the Federal Government’s commitment to achieving target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

He said the government of Nigeria had demonstrated the political will to ensure the achievement of target 8.7 of the SDG, and “has shown enough readiness to address the challenges of the vulnerable groups, including eradicating Child Labour.”

Tarfa noted that as a Pathfinder country with commitment to take accelerated actions on combating child Labour, Nigeria’s “commitment has translated into several actions including the action Ppedge made during the global launch of 2021 International Year for Elimination of Child Labour (IYECL), as well as the formal launch of IYECL.”

He charged those with the responsibilities of translating those commitments into action, not to fail.

Tarfa recalled that the first National Policy on Child Labour and the National Action Plan for the Elimination of Child Labour in Nigeria was developed in 2013 with a five-year implementation period (2013-2017).

According to him, “the thrust of the policy was to provide legally binding guidelines for actors implementing national programmes on child labour towards eradicating child labour, especially its worst forms by 2015 and thereafter by 2025 in alignment with the timelines and targets set by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the succeeding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Target 8.7 respectively.”

The Permanent Secretary stated that the national policy and action plan provided for the establishment of steering committees on child labour at national and sub-national levels.

He added that “membership of these committees at all levels was constituted from the tripartite constituents of government, organised labour and employers’ associations, as well as the civil society organisations, faith and community-based associations.”

According to him, participants at the workshop were drawn from these constituents.

Tarfa explained that the new NAP (2021-2025) would bridge the gaps in implementation, which an evaluation report of the previous NAP had identified, and work to create more impact.

“Having identified the gaps in the implementation process of the expired NAP, we set our mind to developing a robust new NAP that will align with regional plans and take into consideration emerging trends on child labour eradication,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary charged participants at the workshop, as they take a final look at the reviewed policy and action plans, “to ensure that the plan of action contains not only time-bound activities that have direct bearing with child labour, but also monitoring and evaluation mechanism that will ensure monthly or quarterly assessment of progress made against the plan.”

The Country Director of International Labour Organisation (ILO), Abuja Office, Ms Vanessa Phala, stated that an effective implementation of the policy and its action plan would greatly reduce the rate of child labour in the country.

Phala reiterated ILO’s commitment “to continue to support constituents and other relevant partners in ensuring the sustainable achievement of the elimination of child labour by 2025.”

Target 8.7 of the SDG is the eradication of forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its form.

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