Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Goal 8 aims to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. As this relates to children, Target 8.7 of this goal aims to eliminate the worst forms of child labour, including the recruitment and use of child soldiers, as well as to end all forms of child labour by 2025. Children around the world are considered to be engaged in child labour when they are either too young to work or are carrying out activities that could compromise their physical, mental, social and/or educational development. Child labour is both a cause and consequence of poverty, reinforcing social inequality and discrimination.

Currently, it is estimated that 152 million children are engaged in child labour, with almost half, 72 million, working in hazardous child labour. The last two decades have seen a decline in child labour by 94 million. However, the COVID-19 pandemic now threatens to slow or even reverse the progress made and increases the risk of more children joining hazardous labour. The Secretary General’s report on children and armed conflict continues to confirm that children are being recruited in their thousands, by state and non-state actors, to work as soldiers or other exploitative purposes in armed conflicts around the world. During the first 15 years that the report has been produced, more than 75,000 children were documented as being subject to this worst form of child labour.

Today’s global youth unemployment rate is 14 per cent – three times higher than the adult rate. Without urgent investment in education and skills training, the rapidly growing population of young people, that is expected to reach nearly 2 billion by 2030, will be largely unprepared for the workforce. Work is needed to create more safe and secure opportunities for young people and to address labour market inequalities.

UNICEF’s contribution towards reaching this goal centres on the prevention and response to child labour, addressing the impact of supply chains and business practices on children and providing children with rehabilitation and reintegration services. UNICEF also works with United Nations partners to promote youth skills and employment, including through Generation Unlimited, a partnership that aims to ensure that every young person is in some form of school, learning, training or employment by 2030.  UNICEF is co-custodian with ILO for global monitoring of one indicator that measures progress towards Goal 8, as it relates to children: Indicator 8.7.1 Proportion and number of children aged 5–17 years engaged in child labour, by sex and age.

Child-related SDG indicators

TARGET 8.7 Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms

Key asks

UNICEF has nine key asks of governments for target 8.7:

  1. Support enforcement of legal standards as fundamental to reduce child labour and child recruitment.
  2. Promote an integrated approach to reducing child labour.
  3. Engage and advocate with businesses and industry platforms.
  4. Strengthen the reach, calibre and funding of the social service workforce.
  5. Treat children associated with armed forces and armed groups primarily as survivors of child rights violations.
  6. Eliminate child detention for children associated with armed conflict.
  7. Prioritize reunification.
  8. Endorse the Safe Schools Declaration and implement the Guidelines on Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during  Armed Conflict.
  9. Prevent violations against children affected by conflict beginning with the prevention of recruitment, conflict, and other grave violations against children.

Learn more about UNICEF’s key asks for implementing Goal 8