Child Rights activists have called on the private sector to join the struggle to end child labour witnessed across the country.
The call was made as Uganda joined the rest of the world, on Monday June 12 June to mark, the International Day against Child Labour, under the theme “Social Justice for all, End Child labour.”
A new study conducted by the Uganda Consortium for Corporate Accountability www.ucca-ug.com has documented the harrowing extent of child labour in Uganda. The study specifically holds plantation firms and mining companies as the biggest employers of children in Uganda.
Damon Wamara the Executive Director Uganda Child Rights NGO Network expressed concern that the private sector has ignored the plight of children by recruiting the youngsters in the ranks of its workforce countrywide.
Wamara says that many children are used as cheap labourers whereby they are engaged in activities that are harmful to their health especially on large scale coffee, cotton, sugarcane plantations, in the mines among other private entities.
Wamara adds that during and after the Covid19 pandemic, child labour increased significantly which has and continues to violate children’s right to health, education and their ability to thrive as children.
He explains that the covid19 situation left the country wanting, as the numbers of children violated increased significantly during and after Covid19 and the government needs to invest a lot in promoting good practices. We also need to have the private sector on board.
“The private sector are the largest economic users, and we have seen that many of the children are employed or exploited in the private sector. So we need to urge the private sector players to do everything possible to protect children from being exploited and also ensure that they have safeguarding measures in their organizations that protect children,” Wamara explains.
He adds that children are used as cheap labour. This has and will have a negative impact on the labour in future.
He appealed to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to scale up efforts towards ending Child Labour by apprehending perpetrators of violence against children.
“Also, we would ask that the ministry, and government in all its departments prosecute and bring to book all those that are violating the children rights and we are evidently seeing are hampering the progress the country is making to ensure that we end all forms of violence against children”-Wamara stresses.
Milton Muwuma, Kigulu South member of parliamentary says as policy makers and government in general embark on their roles to end child labour, parents must also ensure that children are well catered for and kept in schools.
Muwuma who is also a member of the parliamentary forum on children Child labour, notes with concern that child labour is still a big problem in our societies, adding that mostly the large scale plantations employ minors.
“If you go to Busoga where sugarcane is grown on large scale, most of the children have been diverted to harvesting/cutting sugarcane which is against the established laws of the country and the international charters Uganda has assented to but even when you go to the mining societies like Mubende, Busia where there is a lot of Gold mining you will find children there”-Muwuma explains.
He warns that the moment we do not stand firm as parents, as leaders we are bound to lose the generation.
“So it is my humble appeal to different stakeholders, the parents, religious leaders, cultural leaders to seriously fight this vice and encourage the children to be in school…otherwise if we say, me even at home I can employ someone’s child as long as I can pay her still you are ruining her future because you will not be able to employ her throughout her life time so it is better we encourage children to be in school and feed them well because when a children is well fed they rarely run out of homes, if they are starved they run to look for what to do and end up working as child laborers, in the end affecting their life span”-Muwuma.
Approximately 160 million children worldwide are involved in child labour, which represents 1 in every 10 children. And without mitigation strategies child labour could increase by 8.9 million children by the end of year 2022.