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20 September 2022, 3.00-4.30pm EDT

866 UN Plaza, 3rd Floor


Laureates and Leaders for Children hosted this critical event during the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly to accelerate action to end discrimination against Africa’s children. ‘Justice for Africa’s Children’ explored the compelling need for justice, including justice in realising the rights to education and social protection, and made a new call for justice for Africa and her children.

Africa’s children are in crisis. Over 88 million children in sub-Saharan Africa are in child labour - a rise of 16 million from 2016. Africa now has more child labourers than the rest of the world combined. 98 million children are out of school in sub-Saharan Africa. This is the latest data - from well before the global pandemic locked over a billion children out of education, and the world’s unfair response to COVID forced millions more families into extreme poverty. 


How did we get here? Global wealth grew by $10 trillion between 2015-2019 - yet wealth per person in Africa fell. Africa is home to many of the world’s most valuable natural resources, yet some of its countries are 100 times poorer than countries with few. Wealth is being extracted and grown by the world’s billionaires, yet millions of Africa’s children are being forced out of school and into work to survive.

The unequal and unjust response to the global pandemic has and will continue to deepen the extreme marginalisation for Africa’s children: less than a quarter of a percent of the $12 trillion global financial response went to multilateral support for the world’s poorest families during COVID-19, and ongoing injustice from the unfair allocation of Special Drawing Rights to vaccine apartheid will prevent Africa’s recovery in the longer term.


Deep-rooted and systemic exploitation and discrimination - internationally and nationally - are perpetuating extreme poverty across sub-Saharan Africa, and children are being hit the hardest. By the middle of this century, Africa will be home to a billion young people - 40% of the world’s children and adolescents. We can no longer ignore this ongoing discrimination, nor can we afford to neglect the future of millions of Africa’s children.


We are at a crossroads in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals - and the deadline to end child labour is 2025. The children who are forced to work are the same children who are missing an education, suffering from malnutrition, most likely to be impacted by climate disaster, and have the least access to healthcare and clean water. As long as Africa’s children are working in fields, mines, shops, and homes, they are not in schools. They are forced to work in place of millions of adults, thus prolonging intergenerational cycles of poverty and inequality. The world is failing its promise to leave no one behind.


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