Child Labour In Pakistan


Child labor issue emerged on the international landscape in early 90s and soon gathered enormous attention across the world.  Pakistan was quick to respond to the challenges of child labour. In no time, clutch of policy initiatives, plans of action and legislative and administrative measures were put in place for the prevention withdrawal, rehabilitation and eventual elimination of child labour through formal and non-formal education. Lot has been done at the public / private sector in the past and much more is expected in future. It goes without saying that the menace of child labor still exists in all its forms shapes and a matter of serious concern for all concerned. We believe that collective response and a consistent approach is the only way out to combat child labour in Pakistan. There is dire need to involve untouched segments of civil society to generate required momentum in this fight.


Causes of Child Labor in Developing Countries

Child labour is the product of poverty, overpopulation, illiteracy, inadequacy of the education system, and lack of awareness, deepening rural- urban economic divide and income inequalities. In developing countries, it is a centuries old problem, therefore it needs to be addressed with innovate and workable strategies for its long-term solution.

One needs to understand that there is a clear distinction between child labour and child work. Work that interferes with a child’s schooling or is hazardous to the child’s physical and mental growth, falls in the category of child labour. But a child who goes to school and also works for a few hours in benign conditions to supplement family income is not a laborer. In the past, many child right activists in the West, who called for an outright ban against child labour in developing countries like Pakistan, were unaware of the fact that in many cases child labour is part of family based work, a sort of apprenticeship in traditional occupations and part of family’s survival strategy.  Today, we find great change in their perception about child labor.


GOP – ILO Survey, 1996

Regarding the child labour situation in Pakistan the GOP – ILO survey of 1996 remains the principle point of reference. The survey showed that as on 1st January, 1996, there were 40 million children aged 5–14 years in Pakistan. A majority of the children such as 28.7 million were living in the rural areas while the remaining 11. 3 million were living in urban areas.

The survey revealed that out of the total child population of 40 million, 3.3 million were working children. The prevalence of working children in rural areas was 10.3%. About 71% of the 3.3 million working children were engaged in unskilled occupations, manufacturing & transport sectors and where farm activity dominates. Craft and related trade activities were the next major occupation group which absorbed 19% of the working children. In rural areas, 77% children were engaged in unskilled occupations and in urban areas 23% of the working children were engaged in craft and related trade activities. The survey indicated that about 67% of the employed children were engaged in agriculture sector. Girl workers had a higher percentage (77%) in agriculture than boy workers (64%). The manufacturing sector ranked second and employed about 11% children. The next important sector was wholesale and retail trade followed by community, social and personal services and absorbed about 9% and 8% respectively.

The study found that most cogent reasons given by parents for letting the child work were: to assist in household enterprise (69%) and to supplement household income (28%). In rural areas the main reason was letting the child assist in household enterprise (74%), while in urban areas it was to supplement household income (61%).


Who Can Help Educate Working Children in Pakistan?

You can join us to educate working children and save Pakistan’s future.

  • Private / Public Educational Institutions & Student Bodies
  • Private / Public Hospitals & Medical Community 
  • Private TV / Radio Channels & Newspapers
  • Chambers of Commerce & Business Community
  • Women Associations & Organizations
  • Private Restaurants & Hotels
  • Artists & Fashion Industry in Pakistan
  • International / NGOs & UN Bodies
  • Multinational Companies in Pakistan
  • Concerned Citizen  of Pakistan
  • Government & Government Departments
  • Foreign Diplomats / Expatriates