Child labor is a worrying issue in Iraq where reports have indicated that approximately 900,000 children are working at an early age, poverty, displacement and lack of educational opportunities are some of the factors that push them to work early in addition to having to support their families financially, and this affects their right to access education and safe childhood, which is a human right.

In This article, we will talk about the impact of child labor on their well-being and development in Iraq.

The Impact of child labor on Education:  

  • Engaging children in work early in life limits their access to quality educational and development opportunities, keeping them trapped in the cycle of poverty and the potential to continue for generations to come.
  • When children start working at a young age and work long hours, it's hard for them to go to school regularly. This means they have less time for education, learning important skills, and finishing school. Their busy schedule also makes it tough for them to do well in school and concentrate. They end up with less time for homework and studying, which leads to a decline in their academic performance.
  • Lack of education hinders their overall growth and limits their future opportunities, and as Ghulam Isaczai, the United Nations Resident Coordinator for Iraq, said, "Children should learn and play, not work. They deserve chances to do well and have a bright future."
  • Child labor and the lack of education restrict future job opportunities, particularly those that provide higher wages and better working conditions. This undermines economic stability and perpetuates the cycle of poverty.
  • Increased vulnerability to exploitation, abuse, and vulnerability, the child may be exposed to physical, emotional, and psychological harm that can negatively affect their overall well-being, create additional barriers to education and hinder personal and social development.


Emotional and psychological effects 

There are many psychological effects on children, which are summarized in:

  • Engaging in work at an early age hinders children's academic progress as it deprives them of many educational opportunities, in addition to the fact that the responsibility of work requires them to prioritize work over education,  and this also affects their ability to focus on their studies by saving their time and energy at work.
  •  Involving children at work at an early age has a profound impact on children's emotional well-being, and may cause frustration, helplessness, a sense of childhood theft, fatigue from the weight of adult responsibilities, and work-related stress, which can lead to emotional distress and loss of innocence. 
  • Long working hours, physical stress, and exposure to dangerous environments contribute to stress and anxiety, physical stress can lead to fatigue and physical disorders, while hazardous working conditions can instill fear and anxiety about their safety.
  • Children who work in unsafe conditions are vulnerable to physical and sexual exploitation, abuse, and violence, and may be subjected to physical or verbal abuse as these experiences can have serious psychological consequences leading to trauma, fear, and deep distrust of others.
  • Lack of a nurturing and protective environment further affects their mental health and self-esteem, the lack of emotional support, guidance, and care can exacerbate feelings of isolation and loneliness and can deprive them of opportunities for positive social interactions and the development of healthy relationships which further affects their mental health.

Addressing Child Labor in Vulnerable Populations

According to data collected by an international NGO's field team, approximately 30% of surveyed households reported that their school-aged children are involved in work instead of attending school. This finding highlights a significant proportion of children engaged in labor activities.

The majority of these working children are employed as daily wage laborers, indicating their involvement in temporary and low-paying jobs. Additionally, they are involved in domestic work, construction, and working in small businesses. Unfortunately, some children are also caught up in illegal activities such as petty theft, begging, garbage collection, and even the sale of pills and drugs by certain teenagers.

Addressing child labor is crucial for safeguarding the well-being of children. It not only denies them their right to education but also exposes them to hazardous conditions and hampers their physical and cognitive development. Furthermore, child labor perpetuates a cycle of poverty and restricts children's prospects and opportunities.

What can be done to break the cycle of child labor?

Stopping child labor in Iraq requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the root causes and provides sustainable solutions. Here are some strategies that can help in this endeavor:

  • Strong laws and enforcement: Iraq needs clear laws that ban child labor and impose penalties for violations.
  • Raise awareness: Educate the public about the harmful effects of child labor and promote the importance of children's rights and education.
  • Improve access to education: Make quality education accessible to all children, especially in rural and marginalized areas, by investing in schools, teachers, and resources. Provide incentives like scholarships and meals.
  • Poverty alleviation and support: Help families in need by implementing programs that provide financial assistance and meet their basic needs, ensuring children can stay in school.
  • Responsible business practices: Encourage businesses to reject child labor and promote fair labor standards through partnerships and ethical supply chains.
  • Child protection services: Establish and strengthen services that offer support, shelter, and rehabilitation for children affected by labor exploitation.
  • International collaboration: Work with international organizations and share experiences with other countries to learn from successful strategies in eliminating child labor.


Note: Please visit the provided link to access our official service map, which contains information on available services for child education and protection.



End Child Labor in Iraq

A report from UNICEF on protecting children from child labor.

An article from a news channel about children's rights or protection.



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