New Delhi, Sep 26 : Nobel Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi has expressed concern over the unprecedented rise in child labour in the last two decades, racial discrimination against children and the helpless plight of Afghan children. According to him, nearly 16 crore children have been pushed into child labour compared to 15.2 crore in the past.
"If the rights of children are not safeguarded now, as per the United Nations (UN) estimate, nearly 4.5 crore children may be forced into child labour which will be unprecedented in history," Satyarthi said.
Recently, the United Nations appointed Kailash Satyarthi as the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Advocate. He will put forth the issue concerning 'jobs and social security to end poverty' before the head of states and governments of several countries in the UN on September 28, 2021.
From the global forum, the head of states of all countries participating in the UN General Assembly will be urged to immediately formulate concrete policies and programmes for the social protection of children.
Satyarthi in an exclusive conversation with the IANS said, "I constantly feel that the issues related to children are rarely raised in the UN. But I believe that until children get back their childhood, freedom and education, till then the development of nations remains incomplete." "In the international symposium 'Fair Share to End Child Labour -- Survivors and Leaders on Social Protection' organized by 'Laureates and Leaders for Children', former victims of child labour and world leaders stressed upon allocating more money for education and social security of children along with other areas, and making stringent laws," he added.
"Laws must be implemented to ensure that children do not work as bonded labour in factories and industries. After the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, more children have become victims of child labour." "I have raised the demand for starting a 'Social Protection Fund' for the welfare of children. All children of poor countries must be brought under the ambit of security cover. At the same time, pregnant women must be protected for which $52 billion need to be spent in poorer countries." "This amount seems large but it equals to two days of money spent by the G7 nations during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. This means just 0.4 per cent of the money European nations spend on their social security." "Long speeches and big promises will not work, even campaigning in our respective countries will not work. Prime Ministers and Presidents of different countries come and deliver speeches. But we have to take necessary steps to save our future generations and one of the major steps has been suggested by us." "Child labour is also rising due to Covid-19 as revealed by the international report which is quite shocking. Because the data which has been put out in public is of the period before the Covid-19 pandemic, of between 2016 and 2020." Speaking about the children living in India, Kailash Satyarthi said, "India has several effective laws in place. In the last few years, United Nations have also passed several laws. On the other hand, several laws related to child trafficking and other crimes are not yet implemented. Many good policies have also been made but the required pace at which work should have been done for children has not been done." Is human discrimination more dangerous than starvation? Responding to this question, Satyarthi said, "Human discrimination is more dangerous than child labour. This issue has been raised before as discrimination has many types. Racial discrimination is one of them." "Discrimination has not ended and is still prevalent in India. Firstly, I want to tell various religious leaders who preach about their respective religion that if a person discriminates others then it is against any religion and must be condemned." "Eradicating discrimination is a shared responsibility of all the people, we can reduce it considerably if children are imparted education. The society and the government must work together for this purpose." Speaking about the helpless plight of children in Afghanistan, the child rights activist, Kailash Sayarthi said it is every nation's duty to save the future of the children of Afghanistan for which they must make every effort to help them. Nearly one crore children are on the verge of starvation.
Should there be a separate fund allocated for Afghan children? Satyarthi said there are many challenges before the Afghan children which need to be resolved at political and diplomatic level. If we see the Afghan children from the prism of political equations and diplomatic loss and victory then the future of Afghan children will continue to remain uncertain. All nations need to rise above self interest.
I have said in the past that every country must feel it is their duty to ensure the safety and education of Afghan children. "Afghan children are also our children, so I care about them as much as the children in India," Satyarthi added.