East Africa Regional Symposium on Child Work/Child Labour

When 20 Mar 2014 08:30 AM to
21 Mar 2014 04:30 PM
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On 20-21 March Young Lives is hosting a symposium in Addis Ababa to bring together researchers, practitioners and policymakers from across Africa to share empirical evidence on the types and extent of child work and child labour in different settings.  This will be the basis for discussion of policies to address harmful types or aspects of child labour or to regulate the amount of work children do, or to provide support and/or protection to working children and comparison of best practices across African countries.

The bulk of children in developing countries are involved in some work - mainly within the context of family farms or informal businesses, but sometimes for pay by employers.  Following The Hague Conference on Child Labour in 2010 a road map was developed towards the goal of elimination of the worst forms of child labour by 2016.  The ILO Global Conference on Child Labour held in Brazil in October 2013 set out to review progress. In the African context, the African Union Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child was mandated by the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child to monitor and report on the fulfillment of Child Rights in Africa. 

In Ethiopia, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has drafted a National Action Plan for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (2013-2015).  The Central Statistical Agency survey in 2002 found that 85% of children were working and 92% participated in unpaid family labour.  In the Young Lives Round 3 survey in 2010, 90% of the younger children aged 8 and 98% of older children aged 15 said they worked.  Child work is prevalent in other African countries and child labour likewise is an issue of policy concern, such that several countries in the Region have also produced National Action Plans to eliminate child labour.

 Key questions

There are a number of debates and questions the symposium will address:

1. how to define child labour as opposed to child work;

2. what forms and amounts of work are acceptable and even useful for families as well as for children themselves and what kinds of work are harmful and which are the worst forms;

3. how work differs between groups of children (such as boys and girls or older and younger children);

4. the longer-term impacts of work on children's trajectories;

5. the relative advantage and risks of paid work or work within the family; and

6. the extent to which children do and should combine work and school.

The policy implications will be taken up by the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF), and could inform the further development of African Union (AU) policies on child labour through the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. 


The symposium will involve country presentations based on empirical studies that document children's perspectives on their working lives and best practices to reduce child labour, followed by thematic comparisons and discussion of the policy implications and options for engaging in policy debate. Download the programme here.


Young Lives is working with the African Child Policy Forum and OSSREA to organise the symposium and participants include relevant Ethiopian Ministries, relevan UN agencies and local non governmental organizations. Read the background concept note.

The symposium is funded by the OAK Foundation which has been supporting policy-relevant work in other East African countries as well as the Young Lives research in Ethiopia.