Check out the RICHES toolkit designed for those working in women’s economic empowerment.
Reducing Incidence of Child Labor and Harmful Conditions of Work in Economic Strengthening Initiatives (RICHES)
The Reducing Incidence of Child Labor and Harmful Conditions of Work in Economic Strengthening Initiatives (RICHES) project integrated the issues of child labor alleviation and acceptable conditions of work into women’s economic empowerment initiatives. By putting a new toolkit directly in the hands of policymakers and service providers who work with women entrepreneurs, RICHES helped to ensure women-led enterprises can improve livelihoods responsibly without resorting to child labor or other harmful labor practices.
Few within the women’s economic empowerment community would expect that investments in women’s enterprises could increase the risk or incidence of child labor or negatively impact working conditions. Yet, as women entrepreneurs struggle to manage the additional labor burden of bigger businesses alongside household tasks and unpaid care work, they are turning for help to those closest in reach – their children. As their enterprises expand, these women entrepreneurs, their families, and members of their communities may be exposed to working conditions that endanger their health or safety.
RICHES was a multi-sectoral capacity-building project led by an integrated team of experts in women’s economic empowerment and rule of law.
In order to support women entrepreneurs to make decisions with optimal outcomes for children and workers, women’s economic empowerment service providers and policymakers need tools that can build awareness and influence behaviors. RICHES developed and deployed tools to better equip policymakers and service providers to educate women entrepreneurs to comply with laws protecting children and promoting acceptable conditions of work. The tools were tested in two strategic locations: El Salvador and the Philippines. The tools are now available for global application.
To better understand the dynamics of child labor and working conditions in women’s economic empowerment initiatives, the RICHES project conducted a comprehensive analysis resulting in a final report, including two research briefs on findings from pilots in El Salvador and the Philippines.
RICHES used these findings to inform the design and development of 13 guides composed of 46 tools to better equip policymakers and service providers to build awareness among women entrepreneurs on how to assess risks, better protect children from child labor, and promote acceptable conditions of work. As an example, one tool covers how to diagnose unsafe working conditions, protect children and adults working in small enterprises, and access resources available in the communities.
The project designed two digital education and awareness-building tools to help women entrepreneurs in developing countries identify workplace hazards, including child labor, that could affect anyone involved in the business or living in the household. Each tool (Risky Business and Business Diagnostics) can be downloaded on a mobile device and provides women with examples of mitigation strategies using simple video-based lessons women can easily put into practice.
The project successfully integrated the inclusion of household members and the measurement of unintended negative consequences into a universal set of Social Performance Management standards and tool (SPI4), which are together considered the ‘gold standard’ social performance assessment within the financial inclusion sector. The assessment measures how well financial service providers meet their mission, their impact on clients and employees, and their progress on environment and social indicators. This addition to the SP14 will help to ensure women’s economic empowerment actors assess their investments and mitigate risks of child labor and other harmful conditions of work.
New European Union regulations, known as the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR), establish requirements for a broad range of financial market participants to disclose the negative effects their investments might have, including environmental, social, or human rights impacts. Among these requirements is the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labor and child labor. RICHES provided several guides (Investors Guide, SPM Guide, and M&E Guide) to help investors in women’s microfinance comply with these regulations. improve due diligence, and avoid unintended negative consequences.
Through trainings and outreach to the global financial service sector, the RICHES project educated over 140 microfinance investors, financial service providers, and policymakers on the importance of ensuring women’s entrepreneurship programs do not unintentionally increase child labor or cause other harm. As a result, the project received commitments from multiple organizations, including the Nigerian government, to review and potentially adopt the tools into their organizational or national policies.
- View a recording of the RICHES toolkit launch event in:
English | Français | Español
- RICHES Resource page, including slides from the event
- RICHES on the Grameen Foundation website
- The RICHES Toolkit
- Research and Pre-Situational Analysis
American Bar Association, Rule of Law Initiative (ABA-ROLI)