World Day Against Child Labour is observed on 12 June to raise awareness around child labour. Globally, 160 million, almost 1 in 10, children are child labourers.  In the world’s poorest countries, slightly more than 1 in 5 children are child labourers. 

Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest proportion of child labourers (26 per cent of children aged 5 to 17 years). This is noticeably different from Latin America and the Caribbean, where 7 percent of children in this age group are performing potentially harmful work.

The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that:

is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and/or

interferes with their schooling by: depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.

Whether or not particular forms of “work” can be called “child labour” depends on the child’s age, the type and hours of work performed, the conditions under which it is performed and the objectives pursued by individual countries. The answer varies from country to country, as well as among sectors within countries.

Boys and girls are equally likely to be involved in child labour. However, gender disparities are often observed in the types of activities carried out, with girls far more likely to be involved in unpaid household services.

Here is a list of the 10 worst countries for child labour:

The above ranking is based on this 2020 Maplecroft Index

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