Between 109,000 and 326,000, children and adolescents could enter the labor market, adding to the 10.5 million that are already in child labor at present.
United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) warned that in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the reduction of incomes and the economic insecurities for families would increase the number of children and adolescents that have to labor to survive in the region.
As June 12 marks the International Day against Child Labor, both organizations released a report that explains that the impact of the pandemic could be the cause of more than 300,000 children and adolescents being obliged to return to work.
"The slowdown in production, unemployment, low social protection coverage, lack of access to social security, and higher levels of poverty are conditions that favor the increase in child labor," the document points out.
According to the analysis, the percentage of children between 5 to 17 years in child labor had fallen from 10.8% in 2008 to 7.3% in 2016. However, it could rise between 1 and 3 percentage points.
Such figures mean that "at least between 109,000 and 326,000 children and adolescents could enter the labor market, adding to the 10.5 million that are already in child labor at present," the report explains.
The crisis resulting from #COVID19 could cause a significant increase of #ChildLabour in Latin America and the Caribbean. Read new Technical Note published today by #ECLAC and #ILO on the impacts of the pandemic on children and adolescents of the region. https://t.co/aVGOGONRot pic.twitter.com/h7ubGCx3Br— ECLAC (@eclac_un) June 11, 2020
After initial research in Mexico, Perù and Costa Rica, the United Nations organizations recall that one of the main factors of insecurity and economic instability in households is that the head of the household works in informal conditions, where social protection is minimal. Employment contracts are non-existent, so child labor becomes an essential component of how families handle economic insecurity.
ECLAC estimates that the crisis unleashed by the pandemic will increase poverty in the region by 28.7 million people and extreme poverty by 15.9 million.
The organizations alert about the danger in rural areas as there is a higher risk of child labor in those zones because it has less economic dynamism.
Regarding the initiatives that have proved more effective, the study highlights the "need and urgency to continue to strengthening the universalization policies."
Nevertheless, the report emphasized that these decisions must prioritize specific support for groups of the population, such as families in poverty, people and households in the informal sector, the people of rural localities, indigenous groups, and the Afro-descendant community. This adds as well single-parent families-usually assumed by female heads of household, persons facing other situations of discrimination or vulnerability, and the migrant and refugee population, among others.