The Ministry of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labour and Local Government held activities for National Child Labour Day 2021.
Held under the theme “Act Now! End Child Labour”, a day-long workshop was held at the Center for Employment Training (CET) in San Ignacio.
Cayo correspondent Eliu Yacab spoke to Minister Oscar Requena at today’s event.
Oscar Requena, Minister of Labor: “The essence of the activity really is really to get the message across to all young people that they play a very important part in ending child labor. We know that child labor has been an issue in Belize and across the world and you know the future of our country are our young people. So if we are going to build their future and if we are going to support them in becoming good citizens then we must ensure that they are not engaged in any hazardous work that violates their rights as children. I also want to make it absolutely clear that we are not saying that children cannot work it is important that our children work but it must be work that is within their age limit, it has to be work that is going to teach them skills and good work ethics and good work values and it has to be supervised. We work with our stakeholders so certainly if there is any organization or any individual that knows about any case of child labor I want to say to them that we have trained, experienced personnel within our ministry who they can speak to, we refer to them as focal points where in a very confidential, in a very enabling environment you know these children or even adults who are aware of child labor cases can speak to us and we ill ensure that we refer them to the appropriate authorities and agencies to get support.”
Our newsroom also spoke to Chief Executive Officer, Valentino Shal about the child labour policy that’s in the pipeline.
Valentino Shal, CEO, Ministry of Labor: “It’s an informative and educational event. The whole objective is to highlight the issue, to make people aware that the issue does exist and we need to do something about it. And so it was a very helpful event I believe. We were able to highlight several of the issues. Some of the things that the labor department has been working on so far. One of the important things I think we need to highlight is that we are in the process of developing a child labor policy for Belize and so that is ongoing work and I think it will help to guide the work of the Ministry as we go on towards the time that we have and as we continue to address this issue.”
This week, a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and International Labour Organization (ILO) found eight point four million children were pushed into child labour over the last four years and nine million more are at risk of a similar path by the end of 2022 as a result of COVID-19.