Maat:confronting the child labor phenomenon requires the concerted efforts by government, civil society and stakeholders
Okeil:Joining Alliance 8.7 Will Help Egypt Benefit From International Experiences In Reducing Child Labor
Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights concluded the “Innocence Lost among Dust” Initiative, which aims to reduce the child labor phenomenon, focusing on children working in quarries in Minya governorate. During its implementation period, the Initiative focused on strengthening cooperation between the government, civil society and stakeholders to combat this phenomenon. A training prohram was implemented on the sidelines targeting executive officials in Minya to inform them about acceptable and unacceptable forms of child labor. Various consultative meetings were conducted with experts, civil society and stakeholders on several topics, including the role of the media in combating the child labor phenomenon, and strengthening the joint role of the government and civil society in Comabting the phenomenon.
Ayman Okeil, an international human rights expert and Chairman of Maat, stated that Maat continues to communicate with international mechanisms advocating children's rights to combat this phenomenon and recommended the need to develop a clear roadmap for the efforts made in this regard instead of working separately on various fronts, as well as the need to provide alternatives to families for economic support through small and simple projects that do not involve dangerous work to comabt the spread of school dropouts phenomenon and the tendency to work in hazardous jobs. Okeil also urged Egypt to join Alliance 8.7 aimed at comabting child labor phenomenon, given its benefits whether at the level of benefiting from the experiences of other countries or keeping pace with international developments in combating the phenomenon.
Abdellatef Gouda, coordinator of the “Innocence Lost among Dust” Initiative, stated that efforts must be directed to reduce the worst forms of child labor, not all forms, in accordance with international conventions, especially in light of the fact that hazardous work does not only affect children’s health rights, but also their rights to education and a lead a decent life.
Ayman Abdel Rahman, coordinator of anti-child labor programs at the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM), emphasized that child labor does not only affect the child or his family, but the effects are extended and witnessed at the national level in reducing the quality of human capital, or disrupting trade relations between countries and other problems affecting society. Therefore, before seeking solutions, we must focus on preventive interventions, implement the social accountability model by activating the role of civil society organizations, and design a component of private alternative education to help working children achieve academic attainment.
Ayman Fouad, a human rights expert, stressed that children employment deprives them from their childhood and basic right to education before work. Child labor in hazardous work environments consume child energy att a very young age, thus threatning their future and impacing their ability to work effectively during their adulthood.
Ahmed Moslehi, an expert in children's rights and head of the Children's Defense Network, stated that law and legal provisions are the only way to address negative social phenomena, there must be an integrated system to protect children from the labor market, that combines the state's policies and laws to protect children, as well as the efforts and cooperation of its societal institutions. Although the Egyptian child labor laws are strong and close to child laws in developed countries, efforts are still limited because each of the concerned parties works separately.
Jacqueline Rashad, child protection consultant at “Save the Children”, added that civil society should not only unify efforts but also innovate preventive measures and solutions. Individuals are aware of the seriousness of child labor, but difficult circumstances are stronger, so it is necessary to move towards practical solutions starting with the involvement of organizations for families and children in discussions and strategies for solutions, with a focus on strengthening the societal arm of companies to provide safe and decent job opportunities that make us discover the potentail capabilities of children.
Walaa Shabana, a mental health and science consultant, emphasized that in order to contribute effectively on the ground, it is necessary to address the root cause of the economic decline of families and extract economic alternatives for them, such as developing productive family projects that turn children into a productive element without prejudice to his childhood and his rights.
Muhammad Khaled, a researcher at Kasr-Alainy Research Institute, added that children are the future. The world faces child labor phenomenon that threatens the future, as more than 160 million children, including 79 million, work in the worst forms of child labor, which subjects them to psychological and physical risks that causes schools dropouts.
Participants in the conference stressed the importance of investing in the field of eliminating child labor, because of its strategic importance for the future of society. Children must live their normal, joyous lives rather than being crushed under overwhelming pressures. This helps them grow into healthy, effective members capable of making better efforts to help their societies. Participants also stressed the need to coordinate national efforts between the government and civil society aiming at combating this phenomenon and not work in isolated islands.
In conclusion, participants recommended the need to provide accurate information and statistics about working children in Egypt; provide a safe alternative to child labor represented in simple work models that provide a material alternative and preserve the dignity of the child and his rights to education and good health.
It is worth noting that Maat is carrying out the "Innocence Lost among Dust" Initiative as part of the "Elimination of Child Labor in Egypt" Project, launched within the framework of the joint agreement with ADMC funded by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).