Listening to Girls

10 October 2014

Girls and boys are at the centre of Fairtrade’s efforts to confront child labour in producer communities. Before Fairtrade conducts trainings on child labour prevention, we hold focus groups with school-going children to hear their views. They tell us what is important to their well-being, what makes a secure and enabling environment at home, at school and in their communities.

On International Day of the Girl, we would like to share a sampling of the views that girls aged 8-17 shared with us in these focus groups. These are collected from the group interviews Fairtrade International has conducted with more than 600 school-going girls and boys in and around Fairtrade producer organizations over the past four years.1

Some children are pulled between two extremes, the need to contribute to survival for their families and the desire to study and strive for a better future. The interviews show these conflicts. They demonstrate the importance of providing a sustainable income that allows families and children to build a better tomorrow.

These views and experiences help us to target programmes that are relevant to children’s needs and ensure we act to protect at-risk children and youth. You can learn more about our proactive approach to addressing child labour and protection in Fairtrade producer communities here.

Girls views on farming

“My father wants me to work and my mother wants me to study.”

“We have to bring the water and food to the farm.  It is hot and there is no shade from the trees.  We sit and wait for them [workers and farmers] to finish eating and then we have to walk back in the heat.”

“I like feeling the fresh air and having fun with my friends.”

“I don’t like hauling, especially when it rains and going up or down the slopes.  It is dangerous, we slip and fall.”

“We know we have to support our parents. They work hard too. We need more money for what they sell, that is all.”

“When I grow up I am not even marrying a farmer and none of my children will farm.”

“I have work in the field, go to school, study and clean the house.”

“I work for free, but they pay the other workers.  I too need money for my needs.” 

On school

“I want to be educated and be able to take care of my parents and my own family.”

“My teacher does not respect me because I am a child of a farmer.  I want my teacher to know farmers can make money and farmers’ children can also be respected.”

“At school, I can play games with the other girls and I can draw, I learn to sing and learn about myself.” 

“What I don’t like about my school is that we have to clean the classrooms, the toilets, the gardens, pick up rubbish, wipe the windows and when it rains we have to take the water out.”

“I don’t like the long distance to get to school, we walk for hours, and we sometimes face problems when men tease us and talk to us.”

“I love to spend time with my teacher.  She is very patient with me and talks to me with respect.”

“My school is pretty, the garden is very beautiful and I like walking there with my friends.”

“Some of teachers come in drunk and sleep in the chair that annoys me a lot.”

Girl’s recommendations to Fairtrade

“Stop teachers [from] migrating. They don’t want to live here, they come from city for few months get their requirements and then they leave.”  

“Support orphans, [otherwise] they cannot continue with their education.”

“We need to get paid for the work we do, we should not work for free. We need to buy things too – bicycles, clothes, shoes, radios, skin ointment, food, school uniforms, books.”

“Teach us about our rights so we will not be abused and teach our parents also about our rights.”

“Pay more fair prices so our parents do not have to work so hard to earn a living.”

“Train young people on the importance of health so they won’t get drunk. Drunk young people steal, they hurt girls, and this should be stopped.”

“Girls should not be the only ones who do domestic work.”

“Migrant workers also need to have access to schooling and hospitals for their children and themselves. They need housing and decent food.”

“Provide income to our mothers too and reduce the amount of work they do.”

“Build playgrounds in our schools and let us have more time to be with our friends.”


1 All school going child participants of the focus groups were identified by Fairtrade producer and/or school on request of the Fairtrade producer. Consent obtained from parents and school authorities; assent obtained from children and young people. Most focus groups were conducted with child right partners.

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