Når arbeidende barn mobiliserer seg : En studie av tre unioner i Karnataka, India

Sammanfattning: A number of working children in several regions over the world are mobilising to fight for better working conditions and to gain their rights according to how they interpret the Child Rights Convention (UNCRC) from 1989. Despite the increasing focus on child participation, their approaches and their demands are in many aspects controversial and they are often met with suspicion among diverse actors involved in the discourse of child labour. This dissertation is about three different child worker unions in the state Karnataka, in south India. The overall aim is to explore the impact of mobilisation and to investigate what possibilities the children have for changing their situation within the existing norms, traditions and structures, both in the local society and on higher administrative levels. Further aims are to identify factors influencing both child participation and child labour. The methodological strategies involve interviews and observations, which have been continually shaped to suit the varied contexts. This is an explorative study and the empirical findings are discussed within several theoretical approaches. There are two main focuses in this study. One is child participation and its implications. This includes influencing internal factors, such as the development of a collective identity within a group, and the sensitive interaction among children and between children and adults. The other focus is on the political space these unions act within, their possibilities to operate and make an impact on their environment. This includes the underlying structures, the attitudes, resources and knowledge among the authorities and the public. To conclude, despite several limitations, most of the involved children are highly influenced by the mobilisation, especially on a personal level. Norms, bureaucracy and traditional top-down approaches both in the Indian society and on the international level obstruct their influence in many political issues. However, with active lobbying by allied adults and carefully prepared strategies they are able to put pressure on certain issues. Decisive factors for the children and their self-esteem are increased interaction with several actors, access to information, and experience of respect. Collective gatherings, critical discussions and expressed demands lead to a change in how the children perceive themselves. Their roles are also changed which often leads to a changed interaction within their community. Further, in a long-term perspective they have had an impact on the discourse of child labour.

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