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Don’t Employ Them; Empower
A Sensitization Campaign against Child Labour

Children from Smile Foundation organised an awareness campaign in Mumbai on the eve of International Labour Day.

The objective was to sensitize privileged citizens to prevent the practice of children labour and instead empower them with the power of education.

Event: An outdoor Awareness and Sensitization campaign Against Children working as Labour

Objective: Sensitizing privileged people and sending an appeal to empower underprivileged children through education

Date: April 30, 2008; Wednesday [On the eve of International Labour Day]

Location: Churchgate, Mumbai [towards Fort]

Time: 11 AM to 1 PM

 

Chotu, Bahadur, Munna – If any Indian is asked, what do these names remind him of; the answer in majority of cases would be – A Servant. Do we ever realise that the possessors of these titles are also humans many of them children who are not there to just serve us like robots? If we try to answer this one honestly then probably the answer could range from a big and straight ‘NO’ to ‘Never’ really bothered to think about it’.

Statistics reveal that India has 17 million child labourers, the highest in the world. Over half of the working children (54%) are in agriculture, and most others are employed either in construction (15.5%) or in household work (18%). About 5% are in manufacturing jobs, and the remainder (about 8%) are scattered across other forms of employment. Lack of awareness about the basic rights of a child has lead to easy violation of laws meant to protect and empower children.

Mumbai alone has an estimated 60,000 children between 5 - 14 years in domestic work and 80,000 between 14 - 18 years according to the National Sample Survey.

Domestic workers, especially children, are paid well below minimum wage for unskilled and semi-skilled workers and they are discriminated against. Labour laws do not cover domestic workers and children in domestic work. Because of this, employers can hire, fire, and mistreat domestic workers at their will. The attitude many people seem to have is that we are giving these kids shelter and livelihood, and doing them a favour.

Children become more vulnerable and helpless in front of such people, especially so if they are employed with such households. Majority of children in the country haven't been given any sex education. Hence if abused, they don't realize and understand what is being done to them, and where to go, who to speak with, it usually ends up keeping quiet. It is in such situations that these children are most vulnerable and becomes victims repeatedly. For real change to occur the root causes of child labour have to be addressed like the lack of a coherent education policy, poverty, marginalization, migration etc - situations that force children into work.

Smile Foundation is a national development organisation empowering underprivileged children and youth through various education and healthcare initiatives across 21 states of India.

Smile Foundation believes that education is both the means as well as the end to a better life: means, because it empowers an individual to earn his / her livelihood and the end because it increases one's awareness on a range of issues – from healthcare to appropriate social behaviour to understanding one's rights - and in the process evolve as a better citizen.

Besides children from Smile Foundation projects in Mumbai, many celebrities and actors, including Divyanka Tripathi, Little Champs singers, Anchor Mauli as well as more than 200 citizens participated in campaign.

Smile Foundation, through this sensitization effort wants to create awareness on the vulnerability of underprivileged children in our society. Smile Foundation would like to appeal to the privileged individuals - ‘Don’t employ children; help empower them through education.’

Smile Foundation appreciates members of the media for their proactive role in passing on the information to a large audience and sensitizing them to make our society a better place. A few of the media groups which participated in the initiative proactively include ZEE News and ZEE Group, Star News, Aaj Tak, India TV, Star Majha, News 24, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, DNA, Lokmat, Navkaal, Apla Varthahar, among the prominent ones.

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