LAHORE - The Punjab Labour and Human Resource Department on Monday launched an awareness campaign titled ‘Integrated Project’ for combating child labour in two cities -- Lahore and Multan.

A ceremony was held at Saeed Ahmed Awan Centre for improvement of working conditions and environment.

At least 50 children, who gave up child labour, were also present at the ceremony. The minister for labour distributed learning kits as part of campaign for their school enrollment under the IP Project.

Minister for Labour and Human Resource Ansar Majeed Khan launched the campaign and said that main cause behind the child labour in Pakistan is increasing unemployment, which has dragged many of the families below the poverty line.

“Three-year Integrated Project of the Labour Department will impart education to the vulnerable part of the society and curb child labour,” the minister said. He reiterated that child labour laws should be put into practice strictly.

He suggested that children, parents, employers, NGOs, civil society organizations, bar councils, policymakers, parliamentarians, media representatives and public at large should be involved in this awareness campaign.

Additional Secretary for Labour Dr Suhail Shehzad told The Nation that awareness campaign has been launched in Lahore and in Multan. “It is only Punjab government project,” he said.

“The project is based on the communication model of disseminating information among parents, traders, local media, and community participation to combat child labour.

“We will do community based monitoring and focus on the poverty-hit areas while awareness campaign will focus on poverty-pockets in province in three-year project. Labour Department will make alliance with partners to make this awards campaign cost effective,” he said. 

Secretary Labour & Human Resource Department Sarah Aslam that awareness campaign initiative was launched in line with Pakistan’s international commitments under various conventions and treaties.

She said children who are working at roadside tea stalls/restaurants, welding units, auto workshops, road transport, battery recharging shops and petrol pumps/service stations or any other hazardous areas will now encourage giving up their jobs and enrolling in schools.

Secretary Labour acknowledged that withdrawing them {child labours} from work and ensuring their rehabilitation is a major challenges.

International Labour Organization Country Director (Pakistan) Ingrid Christensen appreciated the initiative and emphasized to do more to counter child labour problem. Christensen assured all support of ILO to the government of Punjab.

It is to mention that all children in the age group of 05-14 years, who should actually be in school, are out-of-school and are deemed to be potential child labourers and around 180 million children around the globe, between the ages of 5 to 14 are child labourers.