In Cote d’Ivoire, shockingly about 20% of children, ages 5 to 17, are involved in child labour.
Parents living in extreme poverty often see no choice but to send their children out to work, or children living by themselves decide to work to help support their siblings.
Young girls often resort to helping shoppers in markets carry their bags: called “Tantie Bagage” which refers to what the girls call out to shoppers as they offer to carry their goods from the market. It is a widespread practice in urban areas across Cote d’Ivoire.
The girls often come from vulnerable families or have lost parental care so this work puts them at immediate risk. They often do not attend school, or drop out, becoming even more invisible and vulnerable. The girls often work up to 13 hours a day to earn the equivalent of around £2.
In 2017, SOS Children’s Villages launched a five-year programme called Tantie Bagage to help 200 girls working as porters in local markets and offer them and their families a valuable alternative to child labour. They provided skills training to help adults improve their income and prioritised women in particular.
“We know that if we empower women in a community, we can achieve better child care.”
Salimata lives in Yamoussoukro, Cote D’Ivoire. There are seven children in the family and her mum is a widow.
When she was 10, a friend told her about her job as Tantie Bagage and the possibility of earning good money with it, so Salimata decided to drop out of school and follow her friend’s advice. She worked at the market for three years, carrying heavy loads for clients, and earning between £3 – £6 per day.
In 2017, SOS Children’s Villages met her and told her about the Tantie Bagage programme. Salimata did not hesitate and a few months later she started a three-year traineeship, paid for by SOS Children’s Villages, at the hairdressing institute.
Last year, Salimata was able to open her own hairdresser’s salon – where SOS Children’s Villages covers part of the rent costs – and make a living of her own.
“I am now independent, though SOS still helps me cover some of my business’ expenses, I now have my salary, and I do something I like that doesn’t make me exhausted at the end of day.”