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2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Malawi

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 7 June 2002
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Malawi, 7 June 2002, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48c8c9dbc.html [accessed 26 November 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Malawi is in the process of becoming a member of ILO-IPEC. Malawi is part of an ILO-IPEC regional program funded by USDOL to prevent, withdraw, and rehabilitate children engaged in hazardous work in the commercial agriculture sector in East Africa.[1569] In April 2001, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MOLVT) signed an agreement with ILO-IPEC's SIMPOC to conduct a USDOL-funded national household survey on child labor.[1570] As of October 2001, the survey questionnaires had been completed, and 12 employees from the MOLVT had been trained in the study methodology; the study is expected to begin in spring 2002.[1571] Survey results will be used as the basis of drafting an action plan to implement ILO Convention 182.[1572] In November 2000, a public-private child labor task force made up of representatives from government, business, and labor was established to promote awareness of child labor and formulate strategies to eliminate it.[1573]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 1999, the ILO estimated that 32.2 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 14 in Malawi were working.[1574] Children are rarely employed in the formal manufacturing sector, but work in the informal sector, in micro industries that include street-side welding, bicycle repair, and furniture making, and as domestic servants.[1575] Children also work in the agricultural sector, often alongside their parents on commercial farms.[1576] Child labor is used in crop production, including tea and maize,[1577] and on commercial tobacco farms, where the incidence of child labor is particularly high.[1578] Children frequently perform domestic work to allow adults to work longer hours in the fields.[1579] Young girls in urban areas reportedly work as domestic servants for little or no wages and in a state of indentured servitude.[1580] Children are reportedly trafficked to Western Europe and South Africa for the purposes of sexual exploitation.[1581]

Primary education is not compulsory.[1582] The government established free primary education for all children in 1994, which increased attendance rates, according to UNICEF.[1583] In 1994, the gross primary enrollment rate was 133.9 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 102.6 percent.[1584] In 1995, 62 percent of students entering primary school reached grade two, and 34 percent reached grade five.[1585] The dropout rate is higher among girls than boys.[1586]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Employment Act No. 6 of 2000 sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years, but does not apply to work done in vocational technical schools, other training institutions, or unpaid work in homes.[1587] The Employment Act also allows children between the ages of 14 and 18 to engage in non-hazardous work that is not prejudicial to their attendance at school or any other vocational or training program.[1588] Employers are required to keep a register of all employees under the age of 18, and violation of this law can result in a fine of MK 20,000 (USD 306) and five years of imprisonment.[1589] There are no legal restrictions on children's work hours.[1590] The Constitution and the Employment Act prohibit forced and compulsory labor, and violators are liable for penalties of MK 10,000 (USD 153) and two years of imprisonment.[1591] The trafficking of persons is not prohibited by law.[1592]

MOLVT is charged with enforcement of child labor laws, but enforcement has been minimal due to a lack of resources.[1593] Malawi ratified both ILO Convention 138 and ILO Convention 182 on November 19, 1999.[1594]


[1569] ILO-IPEC, Regional Programme on the Prevention, Withdrawal and Rehabilitation of Children Engaged in Hazardous Work in the Commercial Agriculture Sector in Africa (Geneva, 2000).

[1570] ILO-IPEC, SIMPOC: Malawi, programme document, March 12, 2001.

[1571] U.S. Embassy-Lilongwe, unclassified telegram no. 1873, October 2001 [hereinafter unclassified telegram 1873].

[1572] Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000 – Malawi (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 2001) [hereinafter Country Reports 2000], Section 6d, at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2000/af/index.cfm?docid=851. .

[1573] U.S. Embassy-Lilongwe, unclassified telegram no. 0390, February 2001) [hereinafter unclassified telegram 0390].

[1574] World Development Indicators 2001 (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2001) [CD-ROM] [hereinafter World Development Indicators 2001].

[1575] Country Reports 2000, Section 6d. See also unclassified telegram 0390.

[1576] Unclassified telegram 1873 and unclassified telegram 0390. See also Line Eldring, Sabata Nakanyane, and Malehoko Tshoaedi, Child Labour in the Tobacco-Growing Sector in Africa, report prepared for the IUF/ITGA/BAT Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour, FAFO, Nairobi, October 8-9, 2000 [hereinafter Child Labour in the Tobacco-Growing Sector in Africa], 38.

[1577] Unclassified telegram 0390. See Country Reports 2000 at Section 6d. It is believed that children working on tea farms also work on a daily basis. See also ILO, "Child Labour in Commercial Agriculture in Africa," technical workshop on "Child Labour in Commercial Agriculture in Africa," ILO, August 27-30, 1996, Dar es Salaam [hereinafter "Child Labour in Commercial Agriculture in Africa"], para. 35.

[1578] A study on the tobacco sector in Malawi revealed that 78 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 14 worked with their parents on tobacco estates on a full-time or part-time basis, and it also noted that children under the age of 10 were found working with their parents as full-time workers on the estates. See W. C. D. Kamkondo and K. Wellard, Women and Children in the Smallholder and Estate Subsector in Malawi, supplementary report to Estate Extension Service Trust (Lilongwe: Rural Development Department, Bunda College of Agriculture, 1994), as cited in Child Labour in the Tobacco-Growing Sector in Africa at 40.

[1579] Child Labour in the Tobacco-Growing Sector in Africa at 39.

[1580] Country Reports 2000 at Section 6c.

[1581] Human Rights Reports: Malawi, Protection Project Database, at www.protectionproject.org.

[1582] Country Reports 2000 at Section 5. The Constitution of the Republic Malawi states that all people are entitled to education and that primary education would be of at least 5 years' duration. See also Constitution of the Republic of Malawi [hereinafter Constitution of the Republic of Malawi], Chapter IV, Section 25 (1-2), at www.sas.upenn.edu/african_studies/govern_political/mlwi_const.html.

[1583] UNICEF, The State of the World's Children 2002 (Geneva, 2001), 26.

[1584] In 1994, the gross primary enrollment rate was 140.6 percent for boys and 127 percent for girls. The net primary enrollment rate was 101.6 percent for boys and 103.6 percent for girls. The available net enrollment statistic is higher than 100 percent, although this is theoretically impossible. The World Bank attributes this abnormality to discrepancies between estimates of the school-age population and reported enrollment data. See World Development Indicators 2001.

[1585] World Education Report 2000: The Right to Education, Towards Education for All throughout Life (Geneva: UNESCO Publishing, 2000), 144.

[1586] Country Reports 2000 at Section 5.

[1587] Employment Act. No. 6, Section 21, as cited in Child Labour in the Tobacco-Growing Sector in Africa at 37.

[1588] Employment Act. No. 6, Section 22, as cited in Child Labour in the Tobacco-Growing Sector in Africa at 37.

[1589] Employment Act. No. 6, Section 23, as cited in unclassified telegram 0390. See also Child Labour in the Tobacco-Growing Sector in Africa at 37. For currency conversion, see http://www.carosta.de/frames/convert.htm on 1/30/02.

[1590] Country Reports 2000 at Section 6d.

[1591] Constitution of the Republic of Malawi. See also unclassified telegram 0390.

[1592] Country Reports 2000 at Section 6f.

[1593] Ibid. at Section 6d.

[1594] ILO, ILOLEX database, International Labour Standards at http://ilolex.ilo.ch:1567/english/index.htm on 11/29/01.

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