The Reducing Incidence of Child Labor and Harmful Conditions of Work in Economic Strengthening Initiatives (RICHES) project aims to integrate 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 seeks 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 is 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 will develop and deploy 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 will be tested in two strategic locations: El Salvador and the Philippines. Once tested, the tools will be available for broader distribution and global application.
- To better understand the dynamics of child labor and working conditions in women’s economic empowerment initiatives, the RICHES project prepared a Pre-Situational Analysis Report. Findings from the report are informing the project’s design and development of tools to equip policymakers and service providers to, in turn, educate field practitioners and women entrepreneurs on how to comply with child labor laws and promote acceptable conditions of work.
- Drawing from lessons learned from its analysis, the RICHES project designed and developed 19 tools that will ultimately be used to reduce child labor in women’s economic empowerment initiatives. As an example, one tool covers how to diagnose unsafe working conditions, protect children and adults working in small enterprises, and access resources that might be available in the communities.
- Since many communities were inaccessible during the COVID-19 pandemic, the project adapted several of its paper-based tools into a digital format, allowing organizations working on women’s economic empowerment initiatives in El Salvador and the Philippines to continue to test the tools, while also expanding virtual tool piloting to additional locations in the Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia regions. The RICHES project is currently revising the tools based on the findings from the testing phase and is expected to officially release its toolkit by February 2022.