Press Release

UN recognizes Fiji’s progress on fighting Child Labour

02 April 2021

The United Nations has commended Fiji’s commitment to fight child labour and pledged to expand cooperation through the entire UN system in support of the country’s efforts to end the practice.  

Child labour has decreased by 38 per cent in the last decade but 152 million children are still affected globally. The COVID-19 pandemic has considerably worsened the situation, but joint and decisive action can reverse this trend.

“I commend the considerable work of the government of Fiji and other partners like civil society. The work on child labour in Fiji has progressed and has resulted in the country accumulating considerable child labour expertise and experience in aligning national legislation with international standards relevant to children,” said Mr. Sanaka Samarasinha, UN Resident Co-ordinator. “All the same, there is much work still to be done and we are in this fight together to eradicate this terrible practice once and for all.”

The fight against child labour requires strong partnerships at global, regional, national and community level. It requires collaboration between Government, Workers and Employers Organisations, Civil Society organisations, families, and international organisations.

Whilst significant progress has been achieved, the UN Resident Coordinator has recommended three areas for immediate joint action with the support of the UN. There is a need to update research on the worst forms of child labour including children in commercial sexual exploitation and drug related offences. The impact of COVID-19 with respect to the possible increase in child labour needs to be better understood. Secondly to raise awareness on child labour and worst forms of child labour reaching into communities across the country. Thirdly, to finalise and approve legal and policy frameworks to eliminate child labour in line with relevant international conventions.

“We all have to make it our business to ensure children are in schools and not engaging in labour. Providing for the family is only the responsibility of adults – not children,” said Hon. Mereseini Vuniwaqa, Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation.

“If we stay true to our pledge as a nation and strengthen our strategies for implementing programs, policies and legislations around child labor better, we will not only improve the lives of our children today, but also secure the lives of future generations. I am pleased to announce that the Fijian Government is pledging the following agendas in relation to the elimination of Child Labour in Fiji: Formulation of a national child labour policy, Review of the Current National Employment Policy, Finalization of the National Occupational Health Services Strategic Plan and Formulation of Paperless Labour Inspection Program,” said Minister Vuniwaqa.

“Fiji has adopted legislation to prohibit employment and work of children and undertook other important and necessary steps. The UN International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour 2021 provides us this great opportunity to make sound progress within the ILO MAP-16 project funded by the US Department of Labour,” says Mr. Matin Karimli, Director of the ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries.

"In Fiji, UNICEF is supporting the Government to strengthen the multi-sector child protection system to prevent and respond to child neglect, abuse and exploitation. This includes drafting of child protection legislation, capacity building of welfare officers to work with vulnerable families and ensuring they have access to guidance, social protection schemes and other services, which is a key intervention to prevent and respond to child labour. Support is also provided to improve parents’ knowledge of child development and parenting attitudes and practices, as well as to set up community-based mechanisms to prevent and respond to child protection concerns, including child labour," said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Sheldon Yett.

 

Background:

About Measurement, Awareness Raising, and Policy Engagement project (MAP16) in Fiji 

The MAP16 project contributes to the promotion of decent work in Fiji by contributing to the elimination of child labour and worst forms of child labour with support from the Ministry of Employment, Productivity, and Industrial Relations, Fiji Commerce & Employers Federation and Fiji Trades  Union Congress. The project further aims to assist Fiji in its capacity as a Pathfinder country and to contribute to achieving SDG 8.7.

For more information: https://www.ilo.org/suva

About the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS):

MICS is an international household survey programme developed and supported by UNICEF. Since its inception in 1995, MICS has become the largest source of statistically sound and internationally comparable data on women and children worldwide.

UNICEF is supporting the government of Fiji to conduct a Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) which includes a module on child labour. MICS will provide quantitative data on the number of weekly hours and types of household and economic activities children are engaged in, disaggregated by age, gender and geographical area. Field work is on-going, and results are expected to be available at the end of 2021.

For more information: http://mics.unicef.org/

Ends

There are 26 UN resident agencies in the Pacific; with 16 agencies based in Fiji and 10 agencies based in Samoa. UN agencies such as UNHCR are based outside the region but collaborate with in-country agencies and Joint Presence Offices and Country Coordination Specialists to meet their country level obligations. Non-resident agencies include IAEA (Geneva), UNCDF, UN Environment, UN-Habitat (Fukuoka), UNIDO, UNCTAD, and UNODC (Bangkok). These agencies implement projects and programs in the region in partnership with resident agencies. For more information and to keep abreast the latest developments, please visit the UN in the Pacific Website: http://pacific.un.org

UN recognizes Fiji’s progress on fighting Child Labour

UN entities involved in this initiative

ILO
International Labour Organization
UNICEF
United Nations Children’s Fund

Goals we are supporting through this initiative