DE LANGE Albertine - Food, Agriculture & Decent Work

DE LANGE Albertine - Food, Agriculture & Decent Work

Gender dimensions of

rural child labour in


with a focus on Ghana

by Albertine de Lange

Rural Employment Officer

FAO regional office for Africa

Prepared for the FAO-IFAD

IFAD-ILO ILO Workshop on

“Gaps, trends and current research in gender dimensions of agricultural and rural

employment: differentiated pathways out of poverty”

Rome, , 31 March - 2 April 2009

FAO & Child labour

Part of FAO’s work on Rural Employment

(ESW- Gender, Equity and Rural

Employment Division)

Within Framework of “International

Partnership for cooperation on child

labour in agriculture”, formed by FAO,


Members of this Partnership

signed a “Declaration of

Intent” in 2007

In this declaration, girls are mentioned as a

group that deserves special attention.

It is generally agreed that the use of a gender

lens helps to better understand child labour

problems, because there may be differences in

causes of child labour for boys and girls and

the effects of child labour may also be different

for boys and girls, because girls and boys are

vulnerable to child labour in different ways

What is “child labour”

Work that harms children’s well-being and

hinders their education, development and

future livelihoods (ILO-IPEC IPEC 2006).

ILO conventions require that states set a

minimum age for admission to work, or certain

types of work (ILO 1973; ILO 1999). All work

that is performed by a child who is younger

than the age specified for that type of work is

considered child labour and hence targeted for

elimination by the ILo and FAO.

Child labour.. a pathway

out of poverty


involvement in farm

work, and sometimes

even child labour, can

play an important role

in the subsistence of

rural families. (An

estimated 90% of

rural children’ s work

is unpaid family work)

But...on the long run,

child labour (as

defined above)

perpetuates cycles of

poverty and is a

“barrier to pathways

out of poverty..”!

Key issues in addressing

gender dimensions in rural &

agricultural child labour:

1. Incidence of rural child labour among girls

may be underestimated.

2. Research and interventions focus on

child labour in export sectors

3. Children (m/f(

m/f) ) do on average more

women’s work than men’s.

Key issue 1

An underestimation of the incidence of child labour

among girls, because most child labour surveys

exclude non-economic activities such as household

chores and child care for siblings. . (But note that ILO

is trying to change this. And note exception:

Ghana’s most recent child labour in cocoa survey).

(!Agricultural tasks might only become burdensome,

when they are assigned in combination with domestic

chores. This happens especially among girls. )

Key issue 2

Research and interventions on child

labour in Africa focus on export crops

and often ignore the food crop production

for local markets and own consumption.

Following household labour distributions,

girls are more likely to be found in the

latter sector. (yet not much is known

about possible hazards and working

hours in this sector).

Key issue 3

Children do overall more women’s tasks

than men’s and their work is often

assigned by women. This observation may

help in finding sustainable solutions for

child labour.

(Implications Will reduced child labour

have an effect on work load women Will

a more equal labour distribution of adult

men and women reduce child labour)


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