A mere 35 billion US dollars per annum – equivalent to 10 days of military spending – would ensure all children in all countries benefit from social protection, Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi told the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labor. He said this was a small price to pay considering the catastrophic consequences of the increase in child labor since 2016, after several years of decline in child labor numbers. “I have been talking to leaders of rich countries to address the problem of post-pandemic economic meltdown. We have to work for social protection for marginalized people in low-income countries and focus on children, education, health, and protection. That is not a big investment compared to what we are going to lose – a whole generation.” -Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi
Satyarthi said the 35 billion US dollars was far from a big ask. Nor was the 22 billion US dollars needed to ensure education for all children. He said this was the equivalent of what people in the US spent on tobacco over six days. Satyarthi said it was a travesty that the G7, the world’s wealthiest countries, had never debated child labor – something he intends to change. “I strongly believe in freedom of human beings. The world will slowly move towards a more compassionate society, sometimes faster, sometimes slower,” he said. Satyarthi was among a distinguished group of panelists on setting global priorities for eliminating child labor. The panelists attributed the increase in child labor to several factors, including lack of political will, lack of interest, and embedded cultural and economic factors. At the core of the solution to eliminate child labor is the need for political will.
An estimated 160 million kids are child laborers, and unless there is a drastic reversal, another 9 million are expected to join their ranks. More here.