LUSAKA, October 16 -- A conference aimed at tackling the problem of child labor in the southern African region opened here Monday with the Zambian government urging countries to work together to fight the scourge.
The regional conference on child labor elimination and public-private partnerships being held in the southern city of Livingstone has attracted participants from Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Joyce Simukoko, Zambia's Labor and Social Security Minister, said at the start of the meeting that child labor was an obstacle to achieving universal primary education and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in many sub-Saharan African countries.
She urged African countries to work together through the development of public-private partnerships that will directly address the scourge, according to state broadcaster, the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation.
Zambia, she said, has over 595,000 child workers in various economic sectors, with 58 percent of them being 14 years or younger.
She however said the government was making strides to deal with the problem by reviewing laws.
Chishimba Nkole, the president of the country's biggest trade union, the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions, said during the same occasion that the trade unions were in support of partnerships between the public and private institutions in the fight against child labor.
The objectives of the conference includes identifying common challenges, priorities and good practices in eliminating child labor and forced labor in the region.
According to International Labor Organization (ILO) figures, there are about 168 million girls and boys working in situations of child labor in the world, with sub-Saharan Africa with the highest incidence at 59 million or 21.4 percent of children aged five to 17 years in child labor.