According to a study on child labor recently released by CAPMAS, around 1.8 million Egyptian children aged between five and 17, or 10.5 percent of the age bracket, were employed in 2010. Another 1.6 million or 9.3 percent of Egyptian children were “engaged” in child labor as defined by international standards.
Boys are three times more likely to be engaged in economic activity than girls. Boys also work longer hours than girls: over four hours against three hours per day.
Four percent of Egyptian children aged between 5 and 11 work.
Most of those employed, almost 79 percent, are doing what is considered “hazardous work,” which usually consists of working in strenuous working conditions often in agriculture. “Working in dust or fumes”, “work leading to exhaustion” and “work that involves bending for a long time” are the three most common hazardous work conditions faced by the children.
According to the survey, 63 percent of economically active children work in the agriculture sector. 81 percent of them are unpaid family workers.
The second most common workplace for children is a shop, kiosk or ahwa where 9.7 percent are employed, followed by factories and workshops where 9.3 percent work.
Work does not mean the child does not go to school: 70 percent of employed children attend school as well. Many Egyptian children split their time between school, economic activity and unpaid household services.
However, a working child is remains far less likely to attend school than others. Only a quarter of those children who do not attend school have no relation with work.
While 24 percent of working children work between three and four months a year, that is during the school summer vacation, 43 percent work throughout the year.
The study also examines the main factors leading to children being economically active. Unsurprisingly, the main determinants of child labor are parental education, parental absence, household wealth, and household ownership of agricultural land and farm animals.
Boys and girls affected by all of these factors have respectively 36 and 13 percent of chance of being economically active.
Since most working children work within the family context, the study concludes that new regulations banning child labor would be inefficient for the most part. It advocates instead grassroots awareness campaigns focused on families that discuss in particular the dangers of hazardous work.
Given the high correlation between child work and poverty, the authors of the report conclude that stronger support to poor families, especially during periods of crisis, would also impact on child labor levels.