The rights of children and adolescents in the face of a new May 1st

The rights of children and adolescents in the face of a new May 1st


This coming May 1, International Workers’ Day is commemorated again, in homage to the Chicago Martyrs, workers killed while demanding the right to an 8-hour work day. May 1 is a day of demand and reflection on rights and labor struggles, which in these circumstances that we have been living for more than a year takes on a particular meaning.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, unemployment previous to the outbreak of COVID-19 was about 8% of the economically active population. This value has been increased by to impacts of the pandemic, which, among other things, has called into question the possibility of continuing to carry out salaried and self-employed work for an important sector of workers, adding them to those who were already deprived of that right. Underemployment and informality are also two enormous and structural phenomena in the region. Data from the International Labor Organization put labor informality at about 50% of the total workforce.

The labor relations governed by unemployment, informality and depressed wages translate into another structural regional problem exacerbated by the pandemic: poverty and indigence. During 2020 both grew. ECLAC data show that while in 2019 30.5% of the people were poor (187 million Latin Americans), in 2020 there are 33.7% (209 million people). Indigence for its part increases from 11.3% (70 million people) to 12.5% ​​(78 million people).

These structural deficiencies in the world of work have a direct impact on the exercise and violation of the rights of children and adolescents by multiple vectors, from material and immaterial deprivations as a result of poverty to child labor as a way of complementing the meager and unstable family income. But they also impact on the life horizon of each child, with unemployment among young people three times higher than that of adults.

The impacts of COVID-19 have exacerbated the structural problem of the lack of access to decent work in our region, and this problem is linked in a decisive way with the structural violation of the rights of children and adolescents whose environments are traversed by these deprivations.

National agreements that provide for the mobilization of resources on the scale needed to address an old pandemic -the lack of quality work and employment and its consequences on the lives of children in our region- are more and more urgent.