Islamabad: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Representative in Pakistan, Florence Rolle expressed concern over the presence of 70pc of the child labor force in Pakistan’s agricultural sector.
“It is often said that children are the future of Pakistan but they are actually the present and we need to address the present so that they become the future of Pakistan,”. Miss Rolle said this while speaking at the National Consultative Workshop on Elimination of Child Labor in Agriculture/Cotton, Textile and Garment value chains in Pakistan.
Ms Florence underscored out-of-school children and the rate of stunting as the key issues that need to be addressed referring to their statistics. Child labor in agriculture is not only about children being out-of-school but it is also a major health issue as they are exposed to pesticides, she said.
The FAO and the International Labor Organization (ILO) are jointly implementing the ‘Clear Cotton Project: Eliminating Child Labor and Forced Labor in Cotton, Textile and Garment Value Chains’ (2018-2023) which has been funded by the European Union (EU). Pakistan is among the four countries where the project is being implemented.
A result-oriented 2022 monitoring report of the project termed it “a well-designed intervention, with good reflection in the country action plans for addressing key needs of target groups and beneficiaries and having a balanced approach”.
However, the report also raised concerns on slow progress and limited anchorage with relevant global platforms on child and forced labour.
The report emphasised that Pakistan needed to work on a global mandatory corporate social security standard for supply chain which includes child and forced labour in the garment value chains.
ILO Country Director Pakistan Khemphone Phaokhamekeo said though Pakistan has ratified 36 international conventions including the convention on the elimination of child and forced labor, as a member state of ILO, the country should take steps to respect compliance of these conventions.