Minister of Labor, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development-Francis Kasaila at the function-pic by Moses Nyirenda
Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development, Francis Kasaila has said child labour and forced labour remain a challenge in Malawi despite efforts by government and other stakeholders to address such issues.
Child labour refers to the engagement of children in prohibited work and, more generally, in types of work that are socially and morally undesirable while forced labour is referred to as a situations in which people are coerced to work through the use of violence, intimidation or by more subtle means such as accumulated debts among others.
The minister admitted that much as the country has done well in some areas in child labour issues, the focus was much on the formal employment sector such as estates and other likeminded institutions unlike the informal sector.
Kasaila told journalists in Lilongwe on Thursday on the sidelines of a follow up meeting to the IV Global Child Labour Conference that the informal sector has a huge problem in child labour hence the need to scale up efforts and formalise the informal sector if the fight against child and forced labour is to be won.
Kasaila, therefore, said there is need for civic education in the information sector so that people are aware of the issue and help government curb the malpractice.
He said a lot of households as well as shops use children to work for them and this denies the children their right to education.
“There are a lot of children employed in people’s homes and other areas and these children are selling products among others under hazardous conditions while at the same time depriving them of their right to education,” he said.
He observed that the fight against child labour can only be won if both the formal and informal sectors are dealt with accordingly.
For this cause, Kasaila said there is need to formalize the informal sector noting that the Child Labour Policy which he said is at an advanced stage will work towards this formalisation while at the same time have a big impact in as far as child labour issues are concerned.
He said inspection exercises carried out in big companies has shown that there are no children in such places however compliance with working conditions and minimum was wage needs to be addressed.
International Labour Organisation (ILO) Chief Technical Advisor, Wangui Irimu, said child labour remains a significant problem as 38% of children in Malawi are involved in child labour.
She said her organisation is working with Malawi government in developing strategies to eradicate child labour.
“We need to find alternatives for children withdrawn from child labour by creating awareness activities, empower communities through income generating activities and improve access to education amongst others,” she said.
Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MCTU) Project Coordinator, Joseph Kakhwangwa said the follow up meeting is a positive development in the labour sector as it will put up points that would act as a roadmap to the fight against child labour and forced labour.
A 2015 Malawi National Child Labour Survey (NCLS) revealed that 38 percent of Malawian children aged between five and 17 years are into child labour.
The results of the survey which were released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) in March, 2017, child labour is more prevalent in the Southern region at 43.5 percent and 33.5 percent for the Central and Northern Region respectively.
The 2015 NCLS, a second national labour survey conducted in the country after the first one in 2002, was a nationwide survey designed to collect data on demographic and socio-economic characteristics of working children aged between 5 – 17 years.
The one day meeting presented and discussed global estimates on child labour and forced labour, the IV Global and Declaration Roadmap and call to action to end forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking.