Children, journalists and local organizations say “No to Child Labour” in Iraq’s Kurdistan region
21 December 2021
A nation-wide campaign is reaching communities most affected by the rise of child labour in Iraq.
Sulaimaniyah (ILO News) Young children at a school in Sulaymaniyah took part in awareness raising activities promoting education and highlighting the dangers of child labour in Iraq.
T-shirts, hats, balloons and leaflets were distributed among the young school children with the slogan “No to Child Labour”, to encourage them to better understand the dangers of child labour and the importance of staying at school.
Child labour has been on the rise in Iraq in recent years due to a combination of factors including armed conflict, displacement and economic challenges. The risk of children entering the workforce has been further compounded by COVID-19, which has forced a growing number of children to drop out of school.
Located in an impoverished part of the city, the school brings together children from different socio-economic backgrounds, including those who have recently been pulled out of child labour and brought back to the classroom.
Najat, the school’s principle, explains that the main reason for school drop is largely linked to financial difficulties. “We have children who are doing well, and children who are extremely poor and who are often forced to drop out of school,” Najat said. “But in order for these children not to miss out on their rights to an education, we, along with social workers and teachers, go to their homes and try to bring them back to the classroom, because children need to go to school and their rights must be protected.”
The event at the school is part of broader activities taking place across the country to raise awareness on the dangers of child labour and promote the importance of education among communities most affected by child labour.
Led by the ILO, the nation-wide campaign is being implemented in collaboration with the Ministries of Labour and Social Affairs, as well as other national and social partners in Federal Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. It is being rolled out across major cities including Baghdad, Basra, Diyala, Dohuk, Kirkuk, al Najaf and Ninewa.
The campaign is targeting more than 10,000 children, their families and guardians, teachers, employers, and the media through a series of activities.
These include sessions for local journalists on national and international labour standards related to child labour and the role the media can play in shedding light on the plight of working children.
“Reporting on child labour is truly a sensitive issue,” said local journalist Nora Loay who took part in one of the media workshops. “We are dealing with children, so when you start reporting on child labour and armed conflict, on trafficking and depriving children of their rights, it becomes extremely sensitive, but these are critical issues that need to be highlighted.”
The campaign also targets a wide spectrum of partners who are involved in the fight against child labour, including local NGOs and ILO’s implementing partners.
“Child labour has many negative consequence on children’s personalities, such as their self-awareness, ambitions, self-confidence and lack of ability to make decisions,” said Niyan Namiq Sabir, a professor from the University of Sulaymaniyah, who presented a session at one of the workshops. “These factors contribute to psychological changes which will lead to further challenges in the future,” said explained.
While the campaign alone will not eliminate child labour, it aims to raise awareness among societies to ensure that child labour is unacceptable while at the same time, make it an urgent priority for authorities to address.
“We all lack some knowledge and information on this issue,” said Bezhan Qadir, a psychology researcher at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs’ General Directorate for Social Development,
who took part in the campaign in Sulaymaniyah. “Through such campaigns we are able to spread awareness among society and parents in particular, on the negative consequences of exploiting children for work.”