Female farmer leads fight on child labor
Whole community inspired to act
Leonia Etienne was elected as Chairperson of the Community Child Labor Committee in Chali Village, Tanzania. She has a very rare leadership role in a largely male-dominated community, and has been steering its’ child labor elimination efforts.
Leonia is a farmer in Chali Village, Tanzania, and has two acres of land she uses to cultivate tobacco to provide income to support her child’s education at Ndono Secondary School. She was divorced by her husband and left to raise their only child on her own.
Leonia is the elected Chairperson of the Community Child Labor Committee (CCLC) and has been leading efforts to eradicate child labor through awareness raising and monitoring activities in her community. She also initiated the creation of Upendo Group, Chali’s first community Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) group. At the time of formation in 2016, Upendo VSLA had eight CCLC members, but it has since grown to a dedicated team of 22. The success of Upendo has been a source of inspiration in Chali, and there are now three more VSLA groups in the village.
When discussing the VSLA activities, Leonia said that ARISE training had provided hope and opportunity for many of her fellow-community members, and she intended to continue her efforts to ensure that more people, especially women, joined VSLAs. Of the CCLC she says, “Since I joined the committee, and have interacted with ARISE, I have learned a lot. I feel more responsible to work on removing children from labor because I would love to see other children go to school and ultimately join secondary school just like my child. Every year many children in our community fail to pass their standard seven examinations because of child labor.”
Leonia’s leadership and capacity to mobilize and influence the community is demonstrated not only through the growth of the VSLA program, but also through her continuous and tireless efforts to engage and promote the reduction and prevention of child labor.
About Chali Village
Chali is one of the villages where ARISE is currently implemented in Tanzania. It has a scattered and small population dominated by livestock keepers and farmers, whose main source of livelihood is agriculture, including tobacco cultivation at a subsistence level. ARISE first entered in Chali in August 2016 to begin project implementation, and in November 2016, a Community Child Labor Committee was formed in the village to support awareness-raising activities.