Ministry of Labour has pledged to ensure that Malawi moves faster than other countries in the region in achieving target 8.7 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The target calls for immediate and effective measures to eradicate child labour, forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking.
This comes against the backdrop of United States World Release Order (WRO) on tobacco imports from some of the companies in Malawi due to the alleged use of child and forced labour in the production process
Deputy Minister of Labour Vera Kamtukule said on Wednesday in Lilongwe during the launch of the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour that the country is privileged to be one of the few to have been admitted as a pathfinder country under the Alliance 8.7 initiative.
She said Malawi pledged to move faster than the rest in achieving target 8.7 of the SDGs.
The deputy minister said that as a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Malawi ratified all eight of the fundamental international labour conventions and has further ratified the forced labour protocol.
Said Kamtukule: “In order to fulfil this role, we are undertaking a number of initiatives and actions.
“Among others, we launched in June 2020 the new National Action Plan on Child Labour and the National Child Labour Mainstreaming Guide.”
She said government is moving towards the abolition of the tenancy labour system in tobacco growing, which is associated with serious decent work deficits, including child labour.
On his part, ILO country office director for Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique, George Okutho, said the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, 2021 declared by the UN General Assembly, is a historic opportunity to reaffirm commitments, take action and inspire broad partnerships.
He said this is important to preserve the progress made on child labour and related issues such as social justice, inclusion and the reduction of inequalities.
“Child labour is widespread in Malawi. The most recent National Child Labour Survey conducted in 2015 shows that 38 percent of children aged between five and 17 in Malawi are involved in child labour, the majority of whom are working in the agriculture sector and approximately half of whom are engaged in hazardous child labour”, said Okutho.
In February 2020, African heads of State adopted the African Union (AU) 10-year Action Plan to Eradicate Child Labour, Forced Labour, Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery in Africa.
The plan provides an immediate framework for mobilising AU institutions, member States, regional economic commissions and other partners on the continent to scale up efforts and accelerate progress towards the achievement of the AU Agenda 2063 and SDG Target 8.7.
In Malawi, child Labour remains an issue especially in tobacco, tea and other large commercial estates.
The ILO is a UN agency founded in 1919 that brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 countries to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.
Malawi has been a member of the ILO since 1965.