Addressing child rights and child labour: A poverty strategy for South Africa

Type Conference Paper - Idasa and Children's Institute seminar on research priorities in the interface between child well-being and unemployment in South Africa
Title Addressing child rights and child labour: A poverty strategy for South Africa
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2005
Page numbers 0-0
Country/State South Africa
Children are the future of our country and essentially rely on adults to nurture and take care of them. As a result, the South African Constitution, as the supreme or highest law in the country, insures that children, as citizens of the country, enjoy all the same rights as their fellow adult citizens, however, those that are under the age of 18, are afforded special rights. Most government departments have special programmes that endeavour to protect and maintain the rights of children, either directly or indirectly, in order to comply with the Constitution. Section 28 of the Constitution states that children under the age of 18 have a right to be protected from work that is: exploitative, hazardous or otherwise inappropriate for their age; detrimental to their schooling; detrimental to their social, physical, mental, spiritual or moral development. Poverty is a significant cause of child labour since children are prepared to engage in more harmful and detrimental forms of child labour than would otherwise be the case in order to assist and alleviate the hardships their families face. As a result, their families tend to condone or encourage such work. Structural factors underlie South Africa’s poverty problem with the poor being predominantly African, female or female-headed households, they reside primarily in the rural areas and have limited access to land, education, assets and basic services. This travesty can be attributed to the apartheid legacy. In South Africa, poverty is exacerbated by a lack of employment opportunities, targeting the youth, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic that results in the subsequent death of breadwinners. “Both long-term poverty and impoverishment must be addressed, as both encourage child labour. Further, both sets of factors interact, and those in chronic poverty are more vulnerable to conjunctural shocks. Structural factors underlying chronic poverty are generally addressed in broad national strategies on development and poverty reduction. In South Africa, grants, public works programmes, income-generating programmes, and job creation are among government’s strategies to address income poverty.3” Since children from poorer households are more likely to spend more hours working than their wealthier counterparts, efforts to address child labour cannot be done in isolation of strategies that aim to promote employment to the adult population in South Africa.
This paper will highlight some of the efforts of government to promote the rights of the child in addition to explaining the Department of Labour’s strategy that aims to eliminate child labour. Finally, the discussion, will also broadly address government’s efforts to promote employment initiatives to assist both youth and adults, thus indirectly trying to alleviate child labour.

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