A note by Bachpan Bachao Andolan on the contributions of Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi in 2021:
Today, more than half of the world’s poorest citizens are children and they are entering poverty and child labour at an unprecedented rate. COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated pre-existing inequalities in our world and the worst sufferers remained children in the past year, especially during the second wave of COVID-19. Kailash Satyarthi, one of the tallest leaders and the loudest voice in the global fight against exploitation of children, made efforts to highlight the plight of children on biggest and significant platforms during this time.
1. Marking the UN International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, amid fears of rise in child labour due to social and economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, Kailash Satyarthi along with other Nobel Laureates, business leaders, UN agencies and other world leaders joined hands to launch the Fair Share to End Child Labour Campaign. The campaign which calls for fair share of resources, policies and social protection for children and demanded the creation of a Global Social Protection Mechanisms with a fair share of direct benefits for children in the poorest communities. This campaign has been supported by UN Secretary General Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Guy Ryder, Director-General International Labour Organization, Dr. Tedros Director General World Health Organisation, Gabriela Ramos, Assistance Director General of UNESCO Stefan Löfven, the erstwhile Prime Minister of Sweden, Martin Chungong, Secretary General, Inter-Parliamentary Union, Jeffrey Sachs, President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. The campaign is creating the largest global coalition to drive urgent and collective action to counter the first increase in child labour in two decades, especially in Africa which is home to more than half of the world’s child labour. Recently, the UN Secretary General announced the Global Accelerator for Jobs and Social Protection, in support of efforts to end this crisis.
2. The demand of Right to Healthcare as a fundamental right in India- Witnessing the aftermath of the deadly second wave of COVID-19 in India and across the globe, Kailash Satyarthi urged the Government of India to make Right to Healthcare a fundamental right and make adequate budgetary allocations in this regard. Later this demand was supported by several parliamentarians and Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Shri Ashok Gehlot also demanded the center to make Right to health as part of fundamental right of the constitution.
3. As the COVID-19’s second wave saw many children becoming orphans and losing their parents, Kailash Satyarthi was the first one to highlight the increasing number of orphaned children in the country due to COVID-19. This resulted in his organisations introducing a 24 hr helpline number for providing immediate relief to the children and families including legal and mental support to children and their guardians. Later many state governments introduced schemes related to orphan children.
4. As recognition of Kailash Satyarthi’s efforts and in support of his campaign, António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, appointed Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi as the Sustainable Development Goals Advocate. The role that is integral to advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The appointment came during a critical year, the UN International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, when the world tragically saw the first rise in child labour in two decades.
5. As COVID-19 period reported a sharp rise in the cases of child trafficking, hunger and lack of basic necessities in the country, Kailash Satyarthi’s organizations the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF) along with partner organizations created Covid-19 Crisis Support Centre and more than two thousand covid care units were distributed , 9 million children were protected across 17 states and 390 districts and more than 5 million meals were distributed in pandemic period. KSCF’S Mukti Caravan- a Campaign on Wheels spearheaded by youth leaders and former child labourers moved across the country spreading awareness about the organised crime of child trafficking and other forms of exploitation of children through interactions, Nukkad Nataks, wall writings, pamphlet distribution and screening of audio visual material. Bachpan Bachao Andolan, sister organization of KSCF also rescued more than 13000 children during the pandemic from trafficking and child labour.