Child labor, as defined by the International Labor Organization (ILO), is “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.” The persistence of child labor is one of the biggest obstacles to human rights globally. Child Labor perpetuates poverty by depriving children of education and leaving them without the skills needed to secure the future of themselves and their communities.
Childhood is the most innocent part of life as during this crucial time period allows the children to develop into healthy adults. Research shows that “75 percent of brain development occurs after birth. Play helps with that development by stimulating the brain through the formation of connections between nerve cells.” It is essential for children to play and live a happy childhood. The sad reality is that not all children get to experience their childhood the same way though, many are deprived of their childhood and forced to enter the work field to support their families. Under these circumstances they become victims of child labor. Although it is illegal by law for anyone under the age of 14 to work, many families are so desperate that they need one of their children to work in order to survive. Employers are desperate for cheap labor as well. The government seems to be doing little to enforce this law.
These young child laborers are not only working long hours, but are also missing out on this crucial developmental step. It is possible that a work environment would replace play and stimulate a child’s brain but it is not certain if they are gaining the right type of knowledge that a child would otherwise gain from play. The stress children endure when having to work will also cause other stunted developmental issues.
A common job for Afghan children in Kabul is working in brick factories. They can work up to 12 hours only to earn $1.40 a day. Other potential jobs for these children are working in bakeries, weaving, selling toilet paper and shopping bags, mining, washing cars or farming. Some children even begin to beg.
At least a quarter of Afghan children between ages 5 and 14 work for a living or to help their families.
Almost one half of the Afghan population (46%) lives below the poverty line
Even in today’s time, only around 60% of Afghan children are sent to school.
Around 20% of children in Afghanistan are expected to work in order to provide for themselves and for their family
The extreme poverty of Afghan families drives many children into hazardous labor. Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Landlessness, illiteracy, high unemployment, continuing armed conflict in much of the country, and a corresponding lack of able-bodied male adult workers in many families are among the most important factors contributing to chronic poverty and, by extension, child labor.
Government officials contend that budgetary constraints and lack of capacity lie behind the government’s inability to enforce labor laws. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and the Disabled (the “Labor Ministry”) told Human Rights Watch: “Unfortunately, we have not even had the minimum budget for social support programs. This is mostly because the national budget was mostly spent on security and less on social issues, particularly vulnerable children.”
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) believes that both the Afghan government and its donors have given “low budget allocations” for the social protection of vulnerable children. Social support programs such as education, legal advice, and health services can help alleviate the effect of child labor or help transition a child laborer out of a hazardous or abusive situation. UNICEF-compiled statistics show that only 1 percent of the national budget is allocated to social programs, which fund most of the child protection programs such as shelter, psycho-social support, and legal advice. While a lack of resources represents an important factor in the persistence of child labor in hazardous industries, the Afghan government has also failed to implement its labor laws through inspections of work-sites, penalties for violators, and a strategy to end exploitative labor conditions.
The three brains behind CWB, Nooria Kamran, Farid Zamani and Omar Hafizi, have always been heavily involved within their community in Toronto, Canada, but always dreamt of helping their nation, Afghanistan. After assisting members of their own and other communities, they decided that it’s time to extend their helping hand to those that were “suffering on a daily basis”. After distinguish researching and debating, they all came to an agreement that they will have to become a bridge between Canada and Afghanistan in order to turn their dream into reality. Hence, they began researching about launching an organization to aide those in need, but found it hard to distinguish who to help first and who would benefit from their assistance the most. Then they came to terms that children are the most vulnerable and neglected who need assistance and guidance immediately. Researches proved that children are actually suffering the most, they are forced to quit school, enter adulthood at a young age and most importantly to become breadwinners of their households. This is a devastating and tragic reality that most children are facing. Every soul living in Afghanistan is exposed to war and faces some kind of tragic every day, however, if we do not educate the children today, the cycle will continue and Afghanistan will never be a war free zone. So CWB’s role is to find children that quit school and are forced to engage in child labour and give them a second chance to start their lives. CWB will not only be sending children back to school, but will also ensure to raise awareness and develop strategies to diminish child labour. CWB can only achieve its goal with the help and support of you all. Let’s make a difference.
CWB’s vision to have every child that is a child labourer to be in school and be given a chance to further their education and live a healthy childhood. Although the government of Afghanistan has set laws in regards to child labour, it is almost impossible for those laws to be enforced due to extreme poverty, illiteracy, high unemployment for the parents that extends to child labour.
CWB will locate young child labourer and after verifying their story, CWB will enrol the child in school and find a permanent sponsor. The sponsorship fund will not only pay for the child’s income and their household expense, it will also put the child back in school.
CWB’s mission is, first and foremost, to protect one of the most vulnerable population groups in Afghanistan, orphans and street children by providing them with tools they will need to achieve resilience and ultimately to become useful and productive members of society.