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Child Labour and Precarious Living Dr Gareth A Jones LSE.

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1 Child Labour and Precarious Living Dr Gareth A Jones LSE

2 Overview The Good News: for most young people life chances and qualities have improved over past 50 years – healthier, better educated, material goods (though not ‘happier’), The Bad News: for young people at bottom, conditions have not changed or got worse, including health indicators, life expectancy, violence... Nine SSA countries increased U5MR 1990-2000; 88 countries predict fail universal primary education 2015, gender inequality persistent...700 million children live less $1 per day, more than in 1990. Though baseline data are poor especially in terms of work (informality, domestic etc), violence (including abuse), income (and time) – and respect, ‘self’ esteem, suicidal ideation...

3 A Right Problem Approaches to young people at work (and many other pursuits) has varied from criminalisation, welfare interventionism and rights approaches. A Rights agenda has been vital to recasting ‘how’ young people are to be involved in development. But, although poverty conceptualised as denial of (human) rights – and choices, entitlements – freedom from poverty is not itself a right. For 1990s it was enough to argue that improving rights was axiomatic to poverty alleviation – neither academics nor agencies explained how ‘rights in principle’ would address structural poverty or affect constraints related to ethnicity, custom, religion, gender. Nagging doubt that governments found easier to ‘sign up to rights’ than devote budgets to material programmes. All rights frameworks, laws are clumsy and advocacy is dull.

4 Child Labour Shifting down the agenda (1990 Action Plan) but re- emerged recent years (2002 UNGASS Outcome Document). Predictor of poverty through lifecourse, target to ‘get kids’ into the MDG/PRSP debate. International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) and ILO 182 on Worst Forms of Child Labour in 1999. But does child labour indicate an absence of rights (to education, welfare), or is the denial of labour an abuse? The CRC does not prohibit or confirm a right to work, while ILO 182 (and claims around) indicate that elimination of worst forms of work complements CRC.

5 Working Children 351 million economically active children: – 8.4 million in worst forms of labour (drug economies, prostitution), – 171 million work in ‘hazardous conditions’, Hazardous = heavy machinery, night work, exposure to noise. But hazardous becomes ‘worst’ when ILO claims that 180 million children “are now suspected to be toiling in the ‘worst forms’ of child labour – those activities that the global community has unanimously agreed are inexcusable under any circumstances and must be eliminated without delay..persistence on such a scale of this violation of children’s basic rights casts a shadow over us all” Lazy or semantics, or ILO repositioning, or agenda creep...?




9 Is hazard a technical or an ethical judgement? Careful not to condemn work without knowing what it is doing, or that consequence of non-work is worse, Careful not to condemn work without considering its positives – aside income, can offer access to networks and institutions (though many forms of work do not, conversely many ‘hazardous’ forms do), Careful we have alternatives to work – education might not be that alternative, in that it does not lead to work in developing world (eg. Ghana).

10 Street Youth Approximately 18% world population, 1.2 billion people are ‘young people’ (15-24), and numbers peak 2035. Street youth – multiple failures in family, community, government..experiences of vulnerability, exclusion...though plenty international regimes address ‘youth’. Range of reasons to be on streets – once there, offers range survival mechanisms though activities not perceived as work, Work as means to opportunity – additional jobs, free goods/food, medicine. Mother s work with young children to keep close, watch out for partners (drugs, violence, sun burn,..ensure they work).




14 Some Conclusions Children & Youth at work on the streets ‘framed’ by debates and responses to ‘informality’ – relative to the eye of the beholder, attitude of the state and the law. Recognising ‘street youth’ as having multiple networks within context of social exclusion may bring valuable insights – consider what young people have, gender and ‘carer’ relations. Recapture some ‘social justice’ – rights without welfare is not a first-best option, it is a normative one. Encourage small measures – through CSOs – to improve the ‘places’ of young people (including for work) – good design, participatory practices, media representation.

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