Agriculture is one of the most dangerous working sectors for children. Young people working in agriculture may face hazardous or physically heavy work. Sometimes their obligations prevent them from going to school. What can be done to improve the situation of working children in agriculture?
That was the main question during the international online conference, hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on the 2nd and 3rd of November 2021.
In a panel discussion on the topic „Empowering and building the skills of youth aged 15-17 years”, co-organized by the FAO and the International Labour Organization (ILO), two members of Dialogue Works Children Advisory Committees (CAC) participated and shared their experience.
Blessings (14) from Zambia (JCM) and Juliet (16) from Kenya (WCY) explained their situation and the challenges they are facing as working children. Additionally, they posed questions to international panellists, who presented approaches and initiatives to improve the situations of working children in the agricultural sector.
Blessings highlighted the hard conditions
under which children suffer, who live and work on the streets and the vicious circle they might be trapped in. Even though social workers intervene and try to take those children back to school and back to their parents, they often end up on the streets again.
“It is hard there. It´s no place for a […] child.”
Juliet emphasized the reasons why children work in the agricultural sector. In her case she needs to support her single mother to make a living and to finance her school fees. With her question, Juliet drew attention to what she considered to be her greatest challenge.
“How can FAO help in reaching out to children who are affected with balancing school work and farm works?”
Another important aspect that she mentioned was being underpaid. In doing so, she also addressed the risk of being exploited as a working child.
In the subsequent discussion with audience members, the two youth representatives also answered questions and contributed important impulses from the perspective of working children.
We thank the ILO and the FAO for giving the space to working children to speak out about their concerns. We also thank Thomas Wissing for supporting our youth representatives before and during the event.
Special thanks also to Juliet and Blessings and our partner organisations Welfare for Children and Youth (Kenya) and Children’s Voice Today (Zambia) for their commitment and support, they did a great job!