What kind of work do children do?

Children Describe Their Work:

The “It’s Time to Talk! – Children’s Views on Children’s Work” campaign asked over 1,800 children in consultations in 36 countries what their day looks like.

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With the method «A day in the life of…» the children identified different areas of work: some paid, some un-paid; some for family, some for strangers; some part-time, some full-time. In order to understand the challenge of child work and how to improve the children’s situation, it is vital to know what kind of work children do. In the following article some of the children’s Tasks are illustrated:

Unpaid Work

© Kindernothilfe/mañana kreativbüro

Most working children do not have a third-party employer but rather help at home or in the family business. They either help out with household work and/or with agricultural tasks. Their duties can include:

  • cleaning the house and/or farm
  • washing clothes
  • cooking and preparing food
  • feeding and looking after livestock
  • fetching water and/or wood
  • agricultural tasks

Most children doing this kind of work can arrange it with their education and go to school regularly.


Paid Work

Not every child working in agriculture is helping out on the family farm. Some are also harvesting crops for strangers for payment. Out of 1,822 children consulted 129 (76 boys, 53 girls) were employed this way. This kind of work can be arranged with an education, but some children have to work full time in the fields and therefore cannot go to school.

© Kindernothilfe/mañana kreativbüro

Domestic work as well can not only be done at home but also for an employer. Either the children do household tasks a few hours a day for somebody else while living with their own family or they live with their employer. The latter recieve either money or room and board as payment.

Some working children sell goods for money. These goods can be fruits, vegetables, eggs, cooked food, clothes, newspapers and other items that can be sold at a market, on the street, in food stalls or in shops. Some of these children have an employer, some are self-employed. This kind of work can be arranged with school, but some children work full time and do not recieve an education.

Another possibility for children to earn money is collecting waste (including bottles, tin cans, rubbish etc). Most of these children work informally without an employer. They collect the materials and sell them to middlemen to be recycled. This work is typically done after school, so most of the children in this job have access to an education.



Physical Work

Some children (163 out of 1,822 consulted) work in mines or make bricks or stones. While most of the brick makers can combine their work with school, a lot of adolescents working in mines dropped out of school. This physical work oftentimes comes hand in hand with long working hours. Below there are two exemplary timelines of a typical day in the life of a child working in these areas:

Day of a 13-year-old girl from Burkina Faso working full-time in a gold mine / © Kindernothilfe/mañana kreativbüro
Day of a 15-year-old boy from Nepal working as a brick maker / © Kindernothilfe/mañana kreativbüro


You Want to Know More?

The detailed findings of the consultations including statistics and information about regional differences can be found in the main report and summed up in the child-friendly version. If you are interested in the methodology of the study, the tool kit that was used is available for free download.