Minister of Labour, Agnes Nyalonje, has expressed anger at the rise of child labour in the country.
Speaking on Wednesday during Lilongwe District commemoration of World Day against Child Labour in Traditional Authority Chadza, nyaLonje said the study by National Statistical Office (NSO) shows that cases of child labour have increased.
However, Nyalonje said her ministry is yet to establish factors that triggered the rise, the rate of the increase and the districts which have higher figures, saying NSO was still working to finalise the report.
“If you looked at the data yesterday [Tuesday] that was talking about population growth, you would be shocked that the count on children in the labour force is increasing instead of decreasing.
“What is that telling us? It simply means that we have more children in the labour force than adults. I can’t hide my disappointment with this especially that for years now we have been campaigning against child labour. We cannot be here still talking about the rising cases of the same,” the minister said.
NyaLonje then called on all men in the country to take a leading role in combating the malpractice.
“Let me use this forum to implore all men to be in front of this war. Firstly, as heads of the households, secondly, as fathers of these children but also as their guardians because it is the same men that are usually owners of farms, businesses and workplaces that recruit children,” she added.
On her part, the Norwegian Ambassador to Malawi, Ingrid Marie Miklesen, who also attended the function, said her country takes great interest in issues of child labour.
While commending government for making efforts to ensure that the agriculture sector functions without use of children as a resource, Miklesen said the country needs to do more.
The current Malawi’s population is estimated to be at 20.9 million with children below 15 accounting for 45 per cent.
The Ministry of Labour announced abolishment of the Tenancy Labour system in 2016, describing it as exploitative.
In a drive to eradicate the malpractice, governments ratified relevant International Labour Conventions, including all fundamentals such as Convention 138.
Malawi also ratified the Protocol of 2014 on Forced Labour Convention, Occupational Safety and Health Conventions, including the Conventions 154, 155 and 187.
Globally, World Day Against Child Labour is commemorated on 12th June but Malawi had it from 29th June, with the first commemoration at Jenda Trading Centre in Mzimba District under the theme “Social Justice for All: End Child Labour”.