The fifth international Labour Organisation Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour will go ahead as planned in Durban from 15–20 May 2022.
The Department of Employment and Labour is hosting the child labour conference for the first time on African soil.
Durban to benefit from hosting an international event
Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said the department wanted to forge ahead in Durban, out of solidarity for the recent floods that devastated the city, and many parts of the province.
KZN has been declared a disaster zone since the floods last month, which destroyed much of Durban’s crucial infrastructure including bulk water supply pipelines, affecting clean water supply and sanitation.
Residents are still making use of water tankers for their daily needs.
“After the devastating natural disaster that befell KZN and Durban in the past weeks, it’s important that we go ahead and hold the Conference in eThekwini as a show of support and solidarity with the people of the province and the RSA,” said Nxesi.
The Conference is expected to be attended by stakeholders worldwide, from governments, labour, business, civil society and international organisations such as Unicef, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Bank.
“We hope these delegates will spend their dollars and rand in Durban,” he added.
The department confirmed the organising team worked tirelessly to get the ICC in Durban ready for its first event post floods.
According to department director-general, Thobile Lamati said the venue itself is ready to carry over 2000 delegates, with the total number of people on site expected to be 7200 and another 5000 are expected to follow the conference virtually.
Child labour most prominent in African countries
In 2019, the United Nations General Assembly committed to ending child labour by 2025.
“As such, the main goal of the Conference will thus be to assess progress toward achieving Goal 8.7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” explained Nxesi.
“The time is therefore opportune for the global community to converge on African soil to find solutions that will help our continent, in particular, to deal with the reported highest prevalence and the largest number of working children.”
Department officials said child labour and exploitation are highest among African countries, the worst perpetrators being under the guise of ‘traditional practices.’
Delegates want to address traditional practices that ultimately exploit children in the form of putting them to work at a young age, or marrying off underage girls.
“Children are supposed to be at school, yet they are working to put food on the table;’ said Nxesi.