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    Good Practice in Working Children’s Participation: A Case Study from Bangladesh Prepared for the Save the Children Alliance Task Group on Children and Work

    Emily Delap December 2003

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    Preface In March 2003, the Save the Children Alliance Task Group on Children and Work commissioned case study research on working children‟s participation. This research explores the impacts and lessons learnt from working children‟s participation in seven Save the Children (SC) supported programmes in five countries. This report provides case study evidence from Bangladesh. Reports are also available on case study evidence from India, Central America, Senegal and Brazil, and on desk-based research on working children‟s participation. These reports will be available on the Save the Children Alliance Website from April 2004. A final report, synthesising all of the case study evidence and providing key principles for the effective participation of working children, will also be available from April 2004 in English, and from June 2004 in French and Spanish. To obtain a copy of this report, visit the Save the Children Alliance Website, or contact the Child Rights and Protection Team Administrator at Save the Children UK: E-mail: childrights@SCFUK.org.uk Before the 13th of April 2004: Save the Children UK 17 Grove Lane London SE5 8RD From the 13th of April 2004: Save the Children 1 St John‟s Lane London EC1M 4BL

    mailto:r.senior@scfuk.org.uk mailto:r.senior@scfuk.org.uk

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    Introduction .................................................................................................................. 4

    1. Definitions ......................................................................................................... 5 Participation ............................................................................................................... 5

    Child Work................................................................................................................. 5

    2. Context .............................................................................................................. 6 Children‟s participation in Bangladesh ...................................................................... 6

    The situation of urban working children in Bangladesh ............................................ 6

    Organisational context of supporting organisations .................................................. 7

    3. The programmes .............................................................................................. 9 Child Brigade ............................................................................................................. 9

    CSID‟s work with disabled street and working children ......................................... 12

    4. Impact of working children’s participation ................................................ 14 Impacts on children .................................................................................................. 14

    Impact on NGOs and service providers ................................................................... 17

    Impact on communities ............................................................................................ 18

    Impact on policies and policy makers ...................................................................... 18

    5. Issues raised by working children’s participation ...................................... 20 Organisational context and children‟s role in setting agendas................................. 20

    Staff capacity and commitment ............................................................................... 21

    The importance of working with other actors .......................................................... 21

    Should independent children‟s organisations be the ultimate goal? ........................ 22

    Compensating for children‟s time ............................................................................ 23

    Diversity and inclusion ............................................................................................ 23

    Conclusion .................................................................................................................. 26

    References ................................................................................................................... 27

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    Introduction In March 2003, the Save the Children Alliance Task Group on Children and Work commissioned case study research on working children‟s participation. This research aims to provide an evidence base to encourage greater participation of working children in the activities of key organisations concerned with children‟s work. The case study research explores the impacts and lessons learnt from working children‟s participation in seven programmes supported by Save the Children (SC) in five countries. This report presents findings from a review of programmes on urban working children supported by Save the Children Sweden-Denmark in Bangladesh1. It focuses mainly on the activities of Child Brigade, a child-led organisation of urban working children, and the Centre for Services and Information on Disability (CSID), a Bangladeshi NGO which uses children‟s advocacy activities to encourage the mainstreaming of disability issues in urban service provision. It also briefly explores working children‟s2 participation in the development of Bangladesh‟s National Plan of Action for Children (NPA), and in recent activities with girls living and working on the streets. The review took place in December 2003, during a 10 day visit to Bangladesh. It involved a review of project documents, including existing evaluation reports, and discussions with working children and their parents, project staff, and policy makers3. This report is divided into five sections. Section one provides definitions of participation, and of child work. Section two provides contextual information on the situation of working children in Bangladesh, local beliefs about children‟s participation, and the organisations involved in the programmes reviewed. Section three describes the programmes and children‟s participation within them. Section four looks at the impact of children‟s participation. Section five examines some the issues that have been raised by children‟s participation and the lessons that have been learnt from this process.

    1 Save the Children Sweden and Save the Children Denmark have been running a joint programme in

    Bangladesh since March 2003. Prior to this time, Save the Children Sweden supported the activities of

    the two case study organisations. For the purposes of this report, Save the Children Sweden-Denmark

    will be referred to as “SC”. 2 „Working children‟ refers to working children with and without disabilities.

    3 I would like to thank staff at SC, Child Brigade and CSID, and the child members of Child Brigade

    and CSID advocacy groups for all the valuable time that they gave me. Sarah White‟s 2001 report on

    Child Brigade was also found to be especially helpful.

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    1. Definitions

    Participation

    There are wide ranging definitions and understandings of children‟s participation. This research uses the definition developed for the Save the Children Alliance position on children‟s participation: “Children and young people thinking for themselves, expressing their views effectively, and interacting in a positive way with other people. It means involving boys and girls in the decisions which effect their lives, the lives of their community, and the larger society in which they live.” Within this definition, it is helpful to distinguish between different types of participation. In his report „Old Enough to Work, Old Enough to Have a Say‟, Tolfree outlines three different types of children‟s participation.

     Consultation: Children and young people‟s opinions are sought in the design, implementation and/ or evaluation of programming or advocacy activities.

     Organisation: Children and young people come together around a common problem, issue or cause to take collective action. This could be for a one off event, such as a theatre show, or to assist in managing or fully managing an entire programme or organisation.

     Protagonism: Children and young people develop the capacity to express their own rights and needs by developing conceptual and articulation skills and confidence. This often has a political component whereby they use the media or take part in demonstrations to express their views to wider society. Its is often also a group activity.

    It is important to note from the outset that no value judgement is placed on any of these categories of participation, as different types of participation may be appropriate in different contexts and with different groups of children.

    Child Work

    A child is defined according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as anyone aged under eighteen. Child work is used in its broadest sense to include paid and unpaid activities, in and outside the home.

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    2. Context

    Children’s participation in Bangladesh

    A recent analysis of child rights in Bangladesh commissioned by SC found that: „Although children

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