Understanding social norms, attitudes and behaviour towards child labour in 5 WNCB countries

The ‘Work: No Child’s Business’ (WNCB) Alliance aims at ensuring that children and youth are free from child labour and enjoy their rights to quality education and (future) decent work. Social norms and traditions, social exclusion and discrimination as well as a poor functioning education system, are key reasons why children are working and not attending school. The covid-19 pandemic has further deteriorated the already difficult contexts, with schools closed during lockdowns, household income corroded and child labour becoming part of the coping strategy at household level. This report describes the results and insights from a baseline assessment to understand the social norms, attitudes and behaviour towards child labour.

It illuminates these issues by giving voice to those at the forefront of the issues: children, parents and community influencers such as teachers, community and religious leaders. The baseline study was deployed in 5 focus countries (India, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Mali and Uganda) of the WNCB programme in areas where the alliance is implementing interventions.

Narrative approach

The baseline assessment uses a narrative based approach in which respondents interpret their own stories of daily life activities using pre-defined child labour and child rights-based questions. This method (SenseMaker) was used in two surveys: one survey focused on children in the age of 7-17 years and one survey focused on parents/guardians and community influencers such as teachers and (religious) leaders. Each survey contained the same questions to prompt narratives and to provide context to the narratives. This enabled the comparison of perspectives between children and adults.

From December 2020 till February 2021, trained story collectors collected self-interpreted narratives from 612 children and 309 adults across the 5 countries. The collected narratives in this study give a holistic perspective of children’s daily lives and the extent to which fundamental rights such as the rights to education, to play and to social protection against child labour are fulfilled.

Common patterns and signals

Although the social, economic and political context of each focus country differs, the study finds common patterns and signals in overarching themes related to education, gender, and child-parent relationship. The study shows that underlying causes of child labour are complexly interdependent, multi-faceted and cross-cultural. The themes presented in the report are concepts for conversation starters and for further reflection and consideration on how the WNCB programme interventions are addressing them.

See link to the full report