Action on Children’s Harmful Work in African Agriculture

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World Day Against Child Labour misses the point about harm

This year the World Day Against Child Labour focuses on the need to protect children in the context of the global pandemic. More broadly, to safeguard children from dangerous and hazardous work, ACHA is calling for policymakers, researchers and practitioners to better understand the realities of children’s work and the harm can arise from it.

ACHA argues that the current narrative of ‘child labour’ is too simplistic and fails to unpack the nuances and complexities around children’s work. They make the case that the ILO approach fails to acknowledge the choices that many children must make for themselves and their families, especially within agriculture.

To demonstrate the diverse experiences of children’s work, ACHA has published a series of mini-essays sharing childhood experiences. As the programme prepared to launch, they asked partners to reflect on their own childhood experiences of work. The prompt was to try to put yourself back into your frame of mind as a child; use 18 years old as a rough cut-off age; and think about harm.

From Ghana, The Netherlands, Brazil and the UK, these essays show the importance of children’s work in developing life skills and building resilience. In contrast, they also show the vital contribution that children may make to the household, and in some instances the hazardous nature of working on a farm. They show that ‘child labour’ is not a simple concept.

To continue to build a realistic picture of childhood experiences of work ACHA is inviting contributions from colleagues, partners and networks. These stories are vital in strengthening the evidence base and building interventions that are effective in preventing harm that arises during children’s work.

If you would like to share your childhood experiences of work please send a short narrative (under 1,000 words) to ACHA (ACHA-Enquiries@ids.ac.uk). All narratives that are published on the ACHA website will be anonymised.

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