Human Dignity Foundation

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According to the Census of India 2011, India is home to 0.43 crore child labourers, depriving children as young as five of their childhood, education, potential and dignity. Gaps in enactment and enforcement of child protection laws, lack of awareness among communities and economic factors result in children entering the workforce, often working in difficult conditions.

In June 2013, Plan India launched a large-scale project to prevent, protect and rehabilitate at risk children under 14 by strengthening laws and institutions for child protection and establishing community-based mechanisms, with support from the Human Dignity Foundation (HDF). Working in close collaboration with the district and village CPCs, Plan India developed a systemic approach to assessing and declaring villages ‘Child Labour Free’.

The panchayat, members of CPCs and children assessed and built evidence on 4 indicators—incidence of child labour, school enrolment, presence of a functional CPC and a children’s group. The data was presented at Panchayat meetings. The Panchayat members then submitted a resolution to the District Collector for validation. The Government of Telangana has adopted this model to achieve its goal of Child Labour Free Telangana by 2021. Plan India supported the government in developing guidebooks on child labour free Telangana and trained 110 Labour Department officials for enforcement. The most effective strategies in the project were economic and educational rehabilitation. Supporting the most vulnerable households by enhancing their livelihood options helped ensure that their children never entered the labour force again. Enrolling children in school and regular follow up resulted in children being retained in schools.

The learnings from the HDF project formed the base for the ‘Combating Child Domestic Labour’ project, an intervention exclusively for children engaged as domestic labourers and currently under implementation in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. The true win for the project is the shift in the communities that formerly considered it a norm to send their young children to work. The triumph is in the children standing up for themselves and demanding their right to a better life.

Highlights

  • 130,433 children (49% girls) rescued; 106,422 (50% girls) enrolled in school; 99,201 (50% girls) retained in school by the end of the project in July 2018
  • 728 villages declared ‘Child Labour Free’ zones after two-tier assessment proposed by Plan India
  • 10,159 vulnerable families supported with livelihood start-up grants ensuring children remain enrolled in school

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