Kathmandu hosts working children’s regional meet

Kathmandu, August 25:

The National Forum of Working Children today hosted a three-day meeting of the South Asia Regional Convergence of the Representatives of Working Children in Kathmandu, according to a statement issued here today. Forty representatives of working children from South and Central Asia including Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tajikistan participated in the meeting. According to the statement, the meeting would highlight the challenges and concerns of working children in South Asia and draw attention of governments, the United Nations and other national and international institutions and forums related to children. It would further establish a South Asian Working Children’s Forum with representatives from participating countries and identify a common strategy to link the regional movement against child labour with the global movement. It would highlight the need to include the participation and perspective of working children in policies and programmes of the NGOs, INGOs and UN structures working in the field of child labour.

It also said that it is now time to create environment and opportunities so that working children have a platform to carry out advocacy and speak on behalf of themselves. As some forms of work violate children’s rights and others may not, working children’s interest lies neither in the blanket ban on all child work nor in approaches, which unequivocally promote child labour, the statement said. Practical experiences have repeatedly confirmed that working children know their own situation better and also can inform national level plans and policy reforms. The regional convergence is technically supported by Save the Children Alliance Nepal, Save the Children Norway, Save the Children Sweden’s Regional Programme for South and Central Asia, CWIN, CONCERN, GEFONT and UPCA.

According to the statement, children represent over 40 per cent of the total population of the globe, with an estimated 350 million working children worldwide, with 60 per cent of these children working in the Asia and the Pacific region. In South Asia, evidence shows a large number of child population is working, in some countries the statistics show that almost half of the child population is engaged in some kind of work. The working children represent various work sectors coming from diverse backgrounds, living situations, age, gender, disability and educational background.