The Bangladesh National Fair Share Campaign group, led by Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) and the CSO Alliance, held a national campaign launch on March 31st, the day after Bangladesh celebrated 50 years of independence.
The event heard from the Speaker of the Bangladesh National Parliament, three Members of Parliament, national civil society leaders, national UN agency chiefs, and child labour survivors come together and issue a rallying call for action to deliver a fair share of resources, polices, and protection to end child labour in Bangladesh.
Child labour in Bangladesh
Significant strides have been made in recent years towards the elimination of child labour in Bangladesh, with targeted government interventions over the last three years seeing over 100,000 children removed from some of the worst forms of child labour. Bangladesh is also committed to establishing 12 years of free, compulsory education by 2030, with a government framework for delivering SDG 4 on education. However, substantial roadblocks still exist, including the quality of education, family poverty particularly in rural areas, and lack of legislation to raise the number of years of free, compulsory education and the working age above 14 - although it should be acknowledged that much of the child labour force includes children between the ages of 5 and 14 regardless of the law. This reinforces the criticality of interdependent policy-making for children, particularly for the most marginalised.
Despite the progress that has been made, Tomoo Hozumi, Country Representative of UNICEF Bangladesh warned that this progress risks being undone by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hozumi and others called for urgent action to prevent the current rise in child labour in Bangladesh and ensure that every child was attending school and living free from poverty.
Calling for a fair share for children
The spirit of Bangladesh’s independence was alive in the discussion as Rasheda K. Choudhury, Executive Director of CAMPE, highlighted when she argued that the goals and the values from the birth of the nation could never be achieved unless every child is given their fair share to end child labour.
Nobel Peace Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi, spoke of his admiration for the progress made in Bangladesh towards realising the rights of every child. He celebrated this historic launch event and called for a special session in the national parliament on child labour in Bangladesh.
To formally launch the national campaign, the Honourable Speaker of the National Parliament, Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury MP, spoke passionately in support of social protection measures, citing specific examples of cash transfer effectiveness when she was Minister for Women and Children.
Following the launch, the national campaign coalition will establish their specific set of policy demands to end child labour in Bangladesh this year. This includes securing a special session in the Bangladesh national parliament on child labour, and to secure action-focused commitments from government decision-makers.
This special event was the first of a series of forthcoming national campaign launch events being organised by campaign coalitions around the world. We look forward to seeing the broad range of actors coming together and pledging their commitment to make 2021 the year we deliver a fair share to end child labour once and for all.