The National Symposium [Archives:1997/41/Reportage]

October 13 1997

on Child Labour
By:- Ismail Al-Ghabri
The National Symposium on Child Labour was held in Sana’a under the auspices of Prime Mnister Dr. Faraj Saeed Bin Ghanem, organized by the Ministry of Labour and National Training in cooperation with the ILO, UNICEF, and WHO during the period from the 6th – 8th of October in addition to the participation of researchers from the Technical Secretariat, and not less than 40 participants representing more than 32 government bodies, NGOs, and International Organizations concerned with child labour. The phenomenon of child labour is prevalent in various developing countries. This phenomenon became more endemic and widespread in developing societies due to the population boom, an increase in poverty, and the evident lack of education. According to a report issued by UNICEF in 1997, more than 250 million children in poor as well as rich countries are exposed to a variety of dangers caused by being employed in life threatening jobs. The whole future of many of these children is at stake. The phenomenon has become more evident with the beginning of 1990s in Yemen. According to the general 1994 census, about 6.5% of the work force is composed of children. The growth and spread of this phenomenon accompanied the Gulf crisis, the imbalance in the economy, and a clear lack of resources. These factors led to a decrease in the number of children in primary education. Information indicate that a large proportion of the working children belong to Yemeni immigrant families returning from the Horn Of Africa, and who went haphazardly into the labour market. These working children often suffer from painful damages and work-related dangers that affect their health. They are prevented from going to schools which leads to increasing the current 55% illiteracy rate. They are also exposed to continuous and various forms of economic exploitation. This is a violation to their rights as guaranteed by the Yemeni Constitution legislations as well as Arab And International Conventions, including the International Convention of the Child’s Rights of 1989 which was signed by Yemen in 1991. Due to this phenomenon extremely dangerous consequences on the child, family, and society, it has become the concern for many international organizations. Great efforts are being made by these organizations to help many countries combat this phenomenon. In our country, the first steps were made by the Swedish Child Care Organization in Sanaa which conducted a field study to acertain the true extent of this phenomenon. The seminar’s topics focused on the following ideas and concepts:- – The current situation regarding child labour in Yemen and its consequences on child, family, and society. – Presenting the evaluation submitted by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training regarding the results of study prepared by a team of Yemeni researchers and submitted to the Swedish Child Care Organization. – The role of employer’s organizations in combating this phenomenon. – The role of Trade Unions in protecting the rise of working children. – The role of NGOs in protecting children from labour. – Child labour and health. – Suggested policies and programs to combat the phenomenon of child labour.
A Research Summary on Child Labour In Yemen:- A research study was submitted by the Swedish Organization (Rada Barnen) in cooperation with a number of Yemeni researchers at the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Planning and Sanaa University as an initial contribution to child labour phenomenon and how to tackle it from different angles. The research endeavored to avail the best information about child labour in Yemen so as to lay down the analysis and solutions for it. The study also used the 1994 census and data as a field study and 1000 children were taken as examples in rural and urban areas to know more about the size of this phenomenon, its specialties, causes, impacts, legalities, and its economic and social impacts on the whole situation. In the light of this study, the member participants noted that this phenomenon is new in Yemen and that it has appeared in the 1990s. The number of children of the 10-14 age group in 1994 was around 231,655 children (male and female), of which 51,7% were male and 48,3% were females. According to this study, the rate of children working has increased annually, ranging at around 3% during the 1991-1994 period to represent 10,5% of the total population in the equilibrium age group and 6,5% of the work force in 1994. The study also expected a greater increase during the following years according to the indicators. The study indicates that child labour exists mostly in the Sana’a governorate and it represents 19,1%. In Hodeidah, it is 14,6%., in Dhamar 11%, and in Hadja 10,2% of the total work force. The study showed that more than 96% of the children were from rural areas. The reasons for this is due to an increase of population for the group under 15 years of age, a decrease of children joining schools, and spreading of illiteracy. The research referred to the point that 89% of child labour work in agricultural professions. As for the children working in the urban areas, the study also showed that the majority of children working as buyers, sellers and in the services were at a rate of 29,6%-17,6 %
Recommendations: The participants of the seminar adopted and recommended the following pionts:- – Adoption of policies and programs on combating the phenomenon of child labour. – A Concern in unifying the definitions and concepts as related to Child Labour. – Establishing a base of information and data for future surveys. – A concern about researches dealing with safety, health and jeopardy that affect children. – A focus on the children working in the rural areas. – Coping with the work legislation’s which go in line with Arab and International accords as related to child labour. – Issuance of publications and pamphlets explaining the problems that face children in their relations with their employers. – Coordination with Arab and International Organizations to help in preparing media programs approaching this phenomenon and the methods of tackling it. – Inviting the local , regional, and international organizations to finance the special programs provided to protect children from jeopardies that face them. – In the sphere of education and social security, the symposium recommended availing the primary education for the poorest at the age of 6-15 especially in the rural areas which still face a shortage in the services of education and there should be a focusing on the females in those small communities. – Supporting financially the poor families to enable it concerning its children. – Encouraging the vocational education and training and to expand it to contain a large number of students ( male and female), including handicapped children. Finally, the seminar aimed to come up with a joint view representing a future action strategy for our country to combat this phenomenon and alleviate its effects on the fure generations.