The International Labour Organization (ILO) and Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services held the ‘Conference on Combating Child Labour in Seasonal Agriculture’ on 21 November 2018 in Ankara in the context of the Project “An Integrated Model for the Elimination of Worst Forms of Child Labour in Seasonal Agriculture in Hazelnut Harvesting in Turkey” launched in 2012 and scheduled to conclude at end 2020, and the 2018 Year to Combat Child Labour.
Delivering the opening remarks in the conference, Mr. Numan Özcan, Director of the ILO Office for Turkey, said: “This week in which we hold the Conference also marks a significant day. Yesterday was November 20 Children’s Rights Day. Celebrated for more than 60 years now, this day draws attention to children’s right to live, develop, and be protected against harm, abuse and exploitation as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and calls all parties to cooperate and improve the well-being of children. On the occasion of this event, we will have the opportunity today to examine the issue child labour particularly in seasonal agriculture, and discuss how to expand the ongoing work, and recall the children’s rights.”
Özcan continued: “Turkey’s National Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (2017-2023) and declaration of 2018 as the Year to Combat Child Labour set an important example. The National Programme identifies child labour in seasonal agriculture as one of the worst forms of child labour, and prioritises the combat to eliminate it by end 2023. To achieve this goal, we are happy to maintain the ILO-Turkey cooperation of more than 20 years in combating child labour with the ‘An Integrated Model for the Elimination of Worst Forms of Child Labour in Seasonal Agriculture in Hazelnut Harvesting in Turkey‘ that we are implementing jointly with the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services. We started the Project in Ordu in 2012, and extended to the provinces of Düzce, Sakarya and Şanlıurfa in 2015, and will continue until the end of 2020.”
Ms. Nurcan Önder, Director-General of Labour in the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services said in her opening remarks: “Steering the employment policies of our country, our Ministry produced the National Employment Strategy with the participation of all stakeholders in the world of work in line with our country’s Vision 2023, and aimed to eliminate the worst forms of child labour under the Strategy. On the other hand, again with the participation of all partners, the National Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (2017-2023) was produced and put into effect. The National Programme defines the worst forms of child labour, namely ‘working in the street, heavy and hazardous work in small and medium-scale enterprises, travelling and temporary worker in agriculture for pay other than family farming’. Among the listed groups, child labour in seasonal travelling and temporary work in agriculture is of special importance in terms of working and living conditions, interaction with environment, and problems of education and health.”
Ms. Önder also emphasised that the declaration of 2018 as the Year to Combat Child Labour aimed to contribute to the efforts to combat child labour, accelerate the work towards the objective, ensure that the efforts should prioritise child labour, and raise awareness in all segments of the society.
Ms. Önder continued: “Our Ministry continues its combat against child labour through many projects in cooperation with national and international entities. In this context, our Project, running since 2012 and extended until the end of 2020 which has brought all of us together today, aims to contribute to eliminating child labour in seasonal agriculture” and expressed her firm belief that they would continue to support, with the same resolution, the work in the context of combating child labour, an important problem in the world and in Turkey.
Following the opening remarks, the Conference proceeded with panel sessions. Mr. İbrahim Demircan, Head of Employment Policies Department of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services, moderated the panel sessions on “National and Local Combat against Child Labour in Seasonal Agriculture”, and “Promoting Combat against Child Labour in Seasonal Agriculture”. The panellists included the representatives of Ministries of National Education, Interior, Health, Gazi University, Genç Hayat Vakfı (Young Life Foundation), governorships of Ordu, Düzce, Sakarya, and Ordu Metropolitan Municipality who shared their experience with the participants. The panels in the Conference discussed the current examples and good practices in combating child labour in seasonal agriculture, and solution proposals.
* The Project was started in 2012 under the partnership of ILO and Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services to eliminate the worst forms of child labour in seasonal hazelnut agriculture in Ordu, in the East Black Sea region of Turkey. Following the successful conclusion of the first period, the Project was expanded in 2015 to cover the provinces of Düzce and Sakarya in the West Black Sea region, and Şanlıurfa which supplied the migrant workers for seasonal agriculture, and extended until the end of 2020. The overall objective of the Project is to contribute to eliminating the worst forms of child labour in seasonal agriculture in line with the government’s National Employment Strategy (2014-2023) and National Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (2017-2023). The Project aims to contribute to the processes of policy development and implementation, strengthening the national and local capacities and raise awareness on the issue to ensure that children are withdrawn from worst forms of labour and prevent children under risk from entering into work.