This event was hosted by Laureates and Leaders for Children and co-sponsored by the Government of Sweden, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the International Labour Organization.
Even before the pandemic, the number of children trapped in child labour increased for the first time in two decades. Shockingly, the biggest increase came amongst children aged 5-11 years old. The total number of child labourers had grown to 160 million by the start of 2020, and the worst-case scenario predictions show this could rise to over 206 million by the end of 2022 as a result of the pandemic. The pandemic has already forced an additional 150 million children into multidimensional poverty - bringing the total number of children living with this injustice to 1.2 billion. This is a child rights catastrophe, but it can be reversed through strong social protection systems to provide a resilient foundation for our children.
A new briefing, A Fair Share to End Child Labour: Universal Social Protection for Children in Low-Income Countries, produced by Laureates and Leaders in September 2021 has found that just $53 billion a year would close the financing gap to provide universal child benefit and maternity benefit to every child in low-income countries. This is the equivalent to just 2 days of the G7 countries' spending on COVID relief packages in 2020. We know social protection works, and we know from the pandemic that it can be implemented on an historic scale. We have a collective responsibility to the millions of children being forced into poverty and child labour every week: will the international community take this unprecedented opportunity to end this?
Nobel Laureates, world leaders, child labour survivor-advocates, and youth activists explored routes to end child labour and child poverty in the face of rapidly growing inequality for the world's most marginalised children, during this high-level event held during UN General Assembly week 2021.