A leading UAE family-rights champion has issued an impassioned plea for society to come together to tackle the "global epidemic" of child labour.
Speaking on World Day Against Child Labour (June 12), Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, the wife of the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, has called for world leaders, decision-makers and humanitarian organisations to join forces to protect children from being pushed into forced labour.
“Elimination of child labour requires us to focus attention on the societal triggers of this global epidemic; most notably, armed conflicts, poverty, climate change and limited access to education, welfare and one’s rights,” said Sheikha Jawaher.
“The benefits of ending child labour are immeasurable. Children who are free from the burden of child labour are able to fully realise their rights to education, leisure and healthy development, and in turn become the very foundations of a just, equitable society for future generations."
Currently, 168 million children are trapped in child labour around the world, according to the International Labour Organisation.
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Sheikha Jawaher said: “Children are not only being exploited as forced labourers; they are subjected to dangerous environments when they are trafficked or recruited as child soldiers."
Last month, Sharjah was named a 'Child-Friendly City' by the United Nations Children's Fund in recognition of its outstanding efforts and accomplishments in the protection and promotion of children's rights.
This achievement came on the back of Sharjah being named ‘Baby-Friendly City’ by the UN and World Health Organisation three years earlier.
"This recognition is a result of decades' worth of efforts and single-minded devotion to children's welfare by a variety of social actors in the emirate, who were guided by the vision of Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah," Sheikha Jawaher said.