Child Domestic Work

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Helpdesk Query:
  1. What different approaches exist to defining child labour in domestic work?
  2. What data is available regarding the numbers of children and households that are involved in domestic child labour?
  3. How does the prevalence of domestic child labour differ across countries?
  4. What approaches of data collection methods have been used and what are the data limitations?
Summary:

The definition of Child Domestic Work (CDW) is contested. Whilst international law defines children as any person under the age of 18 years old, in some countries, the national minimum age to work can be as low as 14 years old. Furthermore, socio-cultural patterns and national level policies add an additional dimension to how CDW is viewed, measured and reported. Despite these variations, as an overview, child domestic work is a general reference to children’s work in the domestic work sector in the home of a third-party or employer.

The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) and UNICEF conventions provide the main framework for definitions. This Helpdesk Report discusses the following questions: What different approaches exist to defining child labour in domestic work? What data is available regarding the numbers of children and households that are involved in domestic child labour? How does the prevalence of domestic child labour differ across countries? What approaches of data collection methods have been used and what are the data limitations?

a) children 5 to 11 years of age that during the week preceding the survey did at least one hour of economic activity or at least 28 hours of domestic work, and;
b) children 12 to 14 years of age that during the week preceding the survey did at least 14 hours of economic activity or at least 42 hours of economic activity and domestic work combined

The ILO dominates the evidence base for research on child domestic workers with some research undertaken by interagency cooperation efforts such as UCW (which comprises of the ILO, UNICEF and the World Bank). For example, the definitions and approaches found in various papers and studies not undertaken by the ILO largely use the ILO’s definitions and its related conventions as a framework for their respective studies, and the most recent literature and statistics around child domestic labour are all ILO reports. Only the most recent reports and data will be referred to in this helpdesk report unless a significant trend was noted between data sets.

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