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Vietnam accelerates progress in the fight against child labor

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – The National Program on the Prevention and Reduction of Child Labor for the 2021 ̶ 2025 period, with a vision toward 2030, was launched this morning, December 1, to accelerate Vietnam’s progress in the fight against child labor.

The program has been developed and implemented by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs in collaboration with the related departments and ministries, with technical support from the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

With a long-term vision toward 2030, the program will prevent and detect cases of child labor, and offer support and intervention for children engaged in and at risk of child labor, raise awareness on child labor prevention and reduction and deliver training and capacity building on child labor prevention and reduction.

The program builds on the successes and lessons learned from implementing the first National Child Labor Program, implemented from 2016 to 2020.

According to the National Child Labor Survey, more than 1 million Vietnamese children aged between five and 17, accounting for 5.4% of children in this age group, are involved in child labor.

The rate of child labor in Vietnam is almost two percentage points lower than the average Asia Pacific rate and over four percentage points lower than the global average. However, as global estimates suggest, unless urgent action is taken, these figures will rise as a result of the global pandemic.

Addressing the launch event, ILO specialist Bharati Pflug said, “Child labor not only poses reputational risks to Vietnam as an international trade partner and weakens the capacity of the future workforce of the country, it undermines the rights of children and reinforces cyclical poverty. Today’s launch demonstrates the strong political will of Vietnam’s leaders to secure a better future for future generations.”

Vietnam has committed to comply with international labor standards, including the eradication of child labor, as required by new-generation free trade agreements. According to Pflug, the implementation of the National Program will ensure that this commitment is applied in practice, facilitating Vietnam’s full integration into the global economy.

Nguyen Thi Ha, Deputy Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, suggested that ministries, unions, localities and organizations actively develop plans and solutions to prevent and reduce child labor in line with their respective responsibilities.

She stressed the need to connect the child labor program with other target programs such as the National Program on Poverty Reduction and Social Security and the National Program on Sustainable Poverty Reduction.

“Child labor can be prevented through integrated approaches that simultaneously address poverty, deprivation and inequality, improve resilience and access to social protection services and quality education, and mobilize community support for respecting children’s rights,” said UNICEF Vietnam representative Lesley Miller.

“It is also important to promote regulations on working conditions for children of working age, promote social norms and public attitudes in opposition to child labor, incorporate child labor concerns into education plans and push the private sector and civil society to act together to eliminate child labor.”

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