She Thrives: Reducing Child Labor in Ethiopia’s Agricultural Sector using a Gender-Focused Approach
The She Thrives project seeks to build agency of vulnerable women and girls in the Ethiopian agricultural sector, change community social norms and traditions that uphold child labor and gender inequality, and transform laws, policies and institutions to be more gender equitable and support efforts to reduce child labor in Ethiopia.
In Ethiopia, agriculture is the leading sector for employment, and coffee is the country’s top agricultural export commodity. Oromia and SNNPR are Ethiopia’s largest coffee producing regions, accounting for almost 95% of the country’s coffee production. Four million Ethiopian households are engaged in small-scale coffee cultivation, with women and girls undertaking 70% of the labor. In addition to harvesting, washing and sorting coffee cherries, women and girls engage in hazardous tasks, such as handling pesticides and other dangerous chemicals.
In Oromia and SNNPR, women not involved in coffee farming often cultivate spices and khat, which include similar risks to workers. Due to high labor costs and the physical nature of this work, women engaged in producing these three goods are frequently assisted by children in their household or those of their neighbors as informal workers. Women and girls working in the production of coffee, spices, and khat often lack the ability to improve their lives by pursuing an education or fair-paying jobs, to better their households, or to make contributions to their communities.
The She Thrives project aims to reduce child labor in informal agriculture in Ethiopia, using a gender-focused approach by implementing activities that will:
- Strengthen the capacity of the Government of Ethiopia to address child labor in the agricultural sector through collaboration with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Women, Children and Youth, and the Ministry of Agriculture;
- Build the capacity of private sector partners to understand and prevent child labor and other labor violations within the coffee value chain through collaboration with the Ethiopian Women in Coffee Association;
- Improve the ability of communities to reduce child labor; and
- Increase the economic stability of households vulnerable to child labor, with a focus on women and girls.
The project will provide direct services to 10,300 people, including vulnerable women and men, and girls and boys engaged in or vulnerable to child labor in 10 districts ("woredas") within the geographic regions of SNNPR (Gedeo) and Oromia (Ilubabor-Yayu). Members of vulnerable households will be provided education and livelihood services; have access to employment services; and have increased access to social protections.
The following results reflect early activities during the project’s start-up phase, which are important for laying the foundation for future success. Please check back later for more results as the project advances further in its implementation.
- In 2021, during the initial stage of implementation, the She Thrives project conducted a series of consultations with core partners, including the Government of Ethiopia, and former USDOL-funded project staff to strategize ways to ensure effective project implementation. Through these meetings, the project had the opportunity to engage in discussion on the intersection of child labor and gender inequality and assess gaps in existing policies and programs.