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Last Updated: Monday, 10 May, 2004, 08:58 GMT 09:58 UK
World's child workers speak out
By Frances Kennedy
In Rome

The first Children's World Congress on child labour opens in Florence on Monday.

Boy repairs axle in Pakistani city of Peshawar
Some 246m children are estimated to be in full-time work worldwide

The conference - organised by trade unions and NGOs - intends to bring together current or former child workers and child activists to exchange ideas and put pressure on governments to combat child labour.

The Congress in Florence has evolved out of the global march against child labour that began in 1998 and is now active in 140 countries.

For the first time, young people will take centre stage speaking about their own experiences and pressing for action to end exploitation and ensure free education for all young people.

Also involved are trade unions and non-governmental organisations involved in the fight against child labour.

The International Labour Organisation estimates that 246m children around the world are exploited in full-time work.

Despite signing conventions against the worst forms of child labour, many countries have failed to deliver on their promises to help the abuse.

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