Child Domestic Workers campaign

Children and youths employed as domestic workers is a widely spread phenomenon in Africa, due to poverty and demographic pressure in rural areas where parents have difficulty raising and feeding numerous children. When sent away, most of these children end up in towns, where they are exploited and exposed to slavery-like conditions, and to multiple forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence. Few manage to complete basic education; most child domestic workers are illiterate and unaware of their basic rights. In addition, most African countries do not recognize domestic work as a full-fledged profession, which allows opportunities for further abuses and exploitation.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) considers domestic work to be one of the worst forms of child labor, yet child domestic workers remain invisible and overlooked by government programs and interventions.

While exact numbers of child domestic workers in Africa are unknown, roughly 6 million people in Eastern Africa alone could be working as domestic workers.

IDAY believes that governments have the primary responsibility for the respect of basic human rights, in that they bear the responsibility to bring about and protect the rights of every individual, especially the most vulnerable individuals, including child domestic workers. That is why IDAY focuses on evidence-based advocacy and sensitization to ensure the protection of children from violence in domestic work in a sustainable, large scale way.

Through advocacy and sensitization campaigns, IDAY ensures that domestic workers are treated with the respect they deserve, are protected by law, and have access to education courses through vocational literacy training programs. These training programs give young domestic workers skills and literacy needed to help them feel proud of their profession and regain their self-confidence, dignity and respect of their employers.

To know more about the regional project “Stopping violence against child and youth domestic workers in East Africa and the DRC”: Domestic workers project or discover our website for the campaign: Invisible workers.

1) Legal protection and recognition of domestic workers of legal working age:
– ratification of the ILO Convention 189 on decent work for domestic workers by all 5 countries.
– recognition of domestic work as a full-fledged profession
– employed under proper contracts guaranteeing decent working conditions (salary, days off & holidays, social security rights).

2) Protection of child domestic workers:
improve existing regulations, policies and referral mechanisms so that they explicitly define and target child domestic work as a form of child labour to be eliminated, and provide for the reintegration of child domestic workers under the minimum legal working age into a protective family environment and school.

3) Help achieve access to quality education and vocational training for all children and youth in the sub-region:
– domestic work activities for children under the minimum legal working age can’t be at the expense of their education.
– importance of training for domestic workers to get adequate and recognised qualifications, which will lead to both better social recognition and contractual conditions.
– domestic workers currently working can be trained while working, through programmes adapted to their needs and availability. In-job training also improves employment conditions.



In the DRC, domestic work is known to be the source of widespread abuses and social violence against hundreds of thousands children and youngsters. These youngsters face an uncertain future. Many of them are at risk of delinquency, enrolment in armed forces, or child trafficking.

IDAY-DRC and its partner CATSR (Comité d’Appui au Travail Social de Rue) and WCP (Women and Children Protection), with the Youth Secretary (Ministry of Youth), completed a national survey on domestic work. The final report is available here: IDAY-Domestic workers Survey Report – DRC as well as the analysis of the political and legal framework: IDAY-Evaluation du cadre légal RDC

They are implementing various activities to raise awareness among the Congolese population and their authorities.

As part of IDAY’s regional campaign on domestic work, Belgian photographer Rosalie Colfs shot a photo-reportage featuring a series of portraits of children and young domestic workers living in Kinshasa. Hidden behind the walls, domestic workers work relentlessly, waking up at dawn to prepare breakfast and going to bed after everyone else, when the dishes are done and the kitchen is in order. Cleaning, ironing, washing, preparing meals, getting children to school …working 12 hours a day is common and holidays are often not allowed. In some cases, their work is associated with a form of modern slavery. These domestic workers share with us pieces of their life, often chaotic, but also their hopes and dreams for a better life.
Rosalie Colfs has been living in Africa for many years. Sensitive to the eyes and words that remain silent, Rosalie offers us to discover the faces of domestic workers through these powerful portraits.

– A press article on the specific issue of domestic workers was published in MediaCongo, in April 2014. This article enhanced the work of domestic workers and gave them visibility:
– Training of IDAY-DRC members in advocacy:

– Sketches on the rights of domestic workers have been played in Goma by the local theater group Yassa Yassa.


A play by professional actors of the INA (National Institute of Arts) in Kinshasa has been produced on DVD. This play is a tool to raise awareness among the Congolese population on child domestic work.


In Kenya, the legislation and policy provisions related to child protection and, specifically, to protection against hazardous work and the worst forms of child labour are highly developed. The main International Conventions on this regard have been domesticated and many of their objectives have been achieved. There are, however, a few important gaps in the legislation and policy development, which IDAY and its partners have identified that need to be addressed to guarantee effectual enforcement of the existent laws and policies: Legal and policy assessment – DW- Kenya

IDAY-Kenya and its partners Partners in Literacy Ministry (PALM) and Comitato Europeo per la Formazione e l’Agricoltura (CEFA) are advocating through various means:

Check the full survey report on domestic workers: Kenya report final-2015

Or discover the short version of the report: Kenya report final – 2015 – popular version


CLADHO and IDAY-International are partnering with the National Commission for Children (NCC) and the Centrale des Syndicats de Travailleurs du Rwanda (CESTRAR) to carry out research, advocacy and sensitisation activities on this issue in this country. Their political and legal framework desk review of domestic work in Rwanda is now available: DW Legal Polit framework Rwanda Final

The domestic workers’ baseline survey focusing on child domestic workers and emplyers in Rwanda is available here: Domestic workers’ Baseline Survey (07-2015)
CESTRAR successfully lobbied for domestic work to be specifically included in a list of professions subject to minimum wage established by the the Rwanda National Labour Council. This list has been submitted it to the Ministry of Public Service and Labour for approval and publication. This is a first and important step for the recognition of domestic work as a full-fledged profession. At this stage, the text has not yet been approved by the Ministry.


In Uganda, the project is implemented by IDAY-Uganda, Uganda Children Centre (UCC), African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN)-Uganda and the National Council for Children (NCC).
– A documentary was broadcasted on national TV to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the UN Convention on Child Rights: IDAY-25th anniversary of UN Convention on Child Rights

– The national survey report on domestic work is available here: IDAY-Final survey report – Uganda

– A report on the legal and policy assessment on child domestic workers in Uganda is also available. The objective of the assessment was to outline gaps in the laws and policies of Uganda in terms of recognizing the rights of domestic workers and protecting them against abuse, particularly the children involved in domestic work.

– A video documentary on child domestic work: Save the child domestic workers


In Burundi, the partners, IDAY-Burundi and Terre des Hommes, with the Ministry of Labor, implemented a survey on domestic workers. As per the survey results, 30% of domestic workers in Burundi are under 18 years old!

The analysis of the political and legal framework also allowed to identify gaps in the national legislation.

Based on those results, the partners have launched an awareness and advocacy campaign to fight against violence towards child and youth domestic workers.

Detained minors campaign

In Africa, minors in conflict with the law are a group of children whose rights are systematically ignored and violated, particularly in countries were justice is relegated in public policy and delinquency is stigmatized. These children deprived of liberty are also deprived of other fundamental human rights like education. When these children are released from detention, they are inadequately prepared for reintegration into society and thus remain marginalized and vulnerable to possible relapses into delinquency.

There is little data enabling the assessment of the extent of this situation or to explain why these children are detained and what type of treatment they receive. However, the limited information available indicates that thousands of children are in detention –without legal grounds, for an estimated 65% –often under inhuman and degrading conditions. These terrible conditions negatively affect their physical integrity, their health, and their access to education. Many have no legal assistance, nor do they have information about their rights and their situation.

In partnership with Defense for Children International (DCI), IDAY initiated a strategy to address the right to education of minors deprived of liberty in Africa. The goal of this project is to promote juvenile justice systems that are respectful to the rights and needs of children, and to contribute to the achievement of the right to basic education for all detained in Africa, including detained children. DRC, Guinea, Cameroon and Uganda were selected to implement this initiative, based on the involvement of local IDAY and SCI members on the issue of juvenile justice and their readiness to implement the project.

Malaria and Education campaign

Every day, 1,000 African children die of malaria. In fact, malaria, a treatable disease, remains the third most important cause of death in Africa.

Diseases like malaria have a detrimental impact on the quality of education in Africa. Repetitive malaria crises can impair children’s cognitive capacities; it raises students’ and teachers’ absenteeism; and it inflates health budgets at the expense of education and the treatment of neglected tropical diseases. While bed nets, pharmaceutical medication, early detection methods and vaccines do show effectiveness, these approaches are extremely costly and, without international financing, are inaccessible to the large majority of Africans.

IDAY supports the growing use Artemisia annua to treat malaria, a plant used by the Chinese for over 2,000 years. Artemisia annua is a repellent against the mosquito which carries the disease and is mostly used to prevent malaria by drinking one cup of tea a day for 9 days each month. The tea is a natural polytherapy containing compounds that act in synergy to fight against malaria; it has no side effects, and the efficiency rate exceeds 90%. Research conducted in the US by Professor Pamela Weathers at Worchester Polytechnic Institute on rodents has confirmed the superiority of the Artemisia annua natural treatment compared to medication and its lesser sensitivity to resistances.

In a pilot program promoted by IDAY-Kenya in the Kisumu region, an area heavily affected by malaria, Artemisia annua was planted by students from two secondary schools. Preventative treatment with the tea has proven to be astonishingly effective. School absenteeism disappeared, and health expenditures dropped by up to 80%. Students’ academic performance skyrocketed: in 2010, in one of the participating schools, all of the pupils who applied to university were admitted. Following this success, numerous schools in Kenya adopted the plant and Artemisia annua projects have also been launched by IDAY members in Senegal, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, DRC, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.

Artemisia annua is viewed as a wholly accessible, effective means of combating a disease which continues to wreak havoc in Africa and, at the same time, of removing a major barrier to quality education on that continent. For this reason, IDAY is committed to accompany the growing use of the plant, an action which involves securing the approval of the competent authorities. To this end, IDAY-International and Kenyatta University in Nairobi signed a protocol agreement in 2012 to implement a programme of multidisciplinary research on Artemisia annua. The principal objective is to use clinical trials compatible with World Health Organisation standards to verify the empirical and scientific results relating to the effectiveness of the plant as an anti-malarial treatment and its greater protection against resistant strains of the disease than pharmaceutical products.  The research will also examine the agricultural, entomological and socioeconomic aspects of using Artemisia annua against malaria in Africa.

The programmes comprises three other components : plantations of school gardens, youth exchanges to facilitate the dissemination of the growing techniques of Artemisia annua and the organisation of colloquiums in Africa to bring together political and institutional authorities, reseachers and practicians of Artemisia annua;
Improved health conditions from stopping malaria, increasing nutritious levels and deworming in schools are recognized means to significantly raise quality of education in Africa. When students are healthy, they can energetically apply themselves to their studies and excel, both in school and in the real world thereafter. Increasing numbers of local communities grow Artemisia annua for themselves, and thus directly reap the benefits of the cure: no waiting for foreign aid or inadequate quantities of imported supplies required. In this way, African communities provide the initiative to ensure brighter, healthier African futures.

To learn more about Malaria, education and new scientific progress on Artemisia Annua, read IDAY new document here

Empowerment of IDAY’s local coalitions

IDAY’s network promotes quality basic education for all children and youth in Africa, with a focus on vulnerable children. The network consists of 19 national coalitions in Africa and their member organizations, in addition to 5 national coalitions in Europe. Most African member organizations, over 300 in number, are grassroots civil society organizations (CSOs), which work in remote areas with little access to and influence on policy dialogue and limited external support.

CSOs represent an important part of citizen participation, and we need to strengthen this network in order to increase efforts to make real and lasting change to improve access to quality basic education for all. After all, a network has a value that exceeds the sum of its parts. When IDAY’s CSO coalitions are strengthened and recognized as important stakeholders, they are able to make more impactful change due to the members’ familiarity with the needs of their communities.

As such, the goal of this program is to strengthen the institutional and operational capacities of the national coalitions and IDAY-International, in order to better serve our mission. A secondary goal is to foster exchanges within the network and capitalize on good practices to promote local expertise and synergies.

Capacity development programs would consist of:
•    An annual survey of the membership and coverage of the network;
•    Assessment of the capacity needs and assets throughout the network, in order to determine specific strengths and weaknesses of the network’s members and their needs for training and technical assistance from IDAY-International;
•    Trainings at a regional and country level;
•    Technical assistance by IDAY-International and members of IDAY-Europe through ongoing support to member and field visits to member countries;
•    Exchange visits between network members to share good practices;
•    Project analysis and development at a coalition level; among others.

The strengthening of IDAY member CSOs also signifies improved participation of local civil society in a constructive policy dialogue with the authorities. Local and national public authorities in African member countries will be increasingly held accountable for enforcing the rights of every child to quality basic education, and these authorities will be informed and advised on efficient measures to improve access to quality basic education for all. Overall this leads to progress made in achieving quality basic education for all and efficient development practices.


Youth Exchange Program

While most youth around the world travel fairly easily, many African youth do not. It is not for lack of interest; poverty and unnecessarily cumbersome bureaucracy prevent these young Africans from taking part in these experiences. In fact, many of the youth involved in IDAY members’ projects against malaria have expressed their desire to travel and share their knowledge and experiences fighting malaria with their peers in other areas.

IDAY aims to support two kinds of youth exchanges, one in Africa and one in Europe.
African Youth Exchange

IDAY’s African Youth Exchange Program is twofold. It aims to help African youth travel their own countries and continent while passing their knowledge of cultivating Artemisia annua to other communities in order to strengthen the fight against malaria. Members of Youth Clubs in Kenyan schools who have successfully cultivated the crop as part of IDAY’s Health and Education initiative will dedicate several months teaching their knowledge in other regions in Kenya and African IDAY member countries. The proposed exchanges will last 4 to 9 months, depending on mutual interest and degree of integration of the participants with the host communities. Host communities will assume responsibility for the exchanges, and IDAY will provide funding for travel and a portion of living costs.

Likewise, youth from IDAY African member countries interested in establishing Artemisia annua in their schools will be eligible for IDAY funding to stay in Kenya or Uganda for 2 to 3 months (where advanced anti-malarial crop programs are established) to observe the plant’s benefits, learn the basics of cultivation and its medicinal uses, as well as how to create and run a Youth Club.

Exchanges like this contribute to the goal of pan-Africanism desired by the African Union, and allow African youth to take greater control of their continent’s development, as they travel, diffuse, discuss ideas with each other and become more active citizens.
European Youth Exchange

IDAY feels that African youth have the right to participate in discussing their own future, and this includes activities organized in Europe. IDAY wants to invite African youth to participate in a revived European Youth Exchange Program that would encompass the June 16 Day of the African Child commemorative activities in Europe. From past exchange experiences from 2006 to 2008, we know these exchange sessions have a profound impact on participating African and European young people.

IDAY will facilitate involvement in activities and exchanges with youth in participating European countries, and cover travel expenses for the participating African delegates. The trip will last approximately one and a half weeks.

These exchange trips raise knowledge and awareness, not only among African youth about malaria treatment and African development, but also with their European counterparts.


The International Day of the African Child – June 16

Celebration of the International Day of the African Child on June 16 is at the origin of IDAY and represents the network’s major event. This date was chosen as an appropriate opportunity to foster dialogue between the CSOs and their governments on basic education.

It was chosen in 1991 by the African Union to commemorate the massacre of young South African who were massacred on June 16, 1976 by the Apartheid army as they were manifesting for a better education in the Soweto slum.

Around that date, each IDAY national coalition organises celebrations with various activities focused on the theme of education for all in Africa. The objective is to raise awareness among the public and authorities, and to convey the demands and recommendations of CSOs on basic education, and create dialogue opportunities with governmental stakeholders. To this end, the events also include the official handing over to the authorities of recommendations that are later compiled in the IDAY Annual Report.

Ask IDAY-International and the national coalitions for feedback on their June 16 activities!