Mobile creches are transforming the lives of women and children in Africa

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Douglas Broom, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • Lack of childcare is one of the biggest obstacles to women’s participation in employment.
  • Now an innovative scheme in Burkina Faso is offering mobile creches, so that mothers can work while their children play safely.
  • Not only are the women benefiting financially, the children are gaining skills and confidence.
  • Other countries are following suit.

Childcare is a challenge for working mothers the world over. In developed nations it’s often the cost that is a barrier to women rejoining the workforce. But in other parts of the world, childcare for working mothers is virtually non-existent.

Unless friends or family members are able to look after small children, mothers are often forced to take their child to work with them. And where that work is outdoors, that can mean leaving children to fend for themselves.

But a World Bank-supported programme in the West African country of Burkina Faso offers a new solution. It provides a safe and stimulating environment for children and peace of mind for their mothers. What’s more, it follows families as they move for work. https://www.youtube.com/embed/EIHRzmTMVrc?enablejsapi=1&wmode=transparent

‘Hiding their children’

In 2016, Burkina Faso launched short training programmes designed to tackle youth unemployment and fight poverty. Participants are given six months work in projects like urban development and roadbuilding. So far, more than 46,000 young people have taken part.

The organizers were surprised by the number of young women applying to join the scheme. What they did not know was that several of the applicants were mothers, and were in fact omitting to mention their young families and pregnancies due to a fear that these would automatically disqualify them.

a picture of a woman on a bicycle with a child on the seat
Before the creches, many mothers in Burkina Faso had to take their children to work with them. Image: World Bank

“It became clear that the women were hiding their children and were making do in whatever way they could to take care of them,” says Savadogo Ouédraogo, mayor of the third arrondissement of the town of Manga, where mobile creches were first tried out.

Childcare on the move

Without childcare, mothers were often forced to rely on older, usually female, children, who missed school to care for their younger siblings. Where no family support was available, the children were simply brought to the worksite and left to play together while their mothers worked.

As well as being dangerous for the children and stressful for the mothers, these makeshift arrangements meant the children were not receiving any stimulation to further their development.

But, because the women have to move between worksites, conventional childcare solutions were impractical. So the project organizers invited the mothers to join a focus group to talk about their needs and the difficulties they were facing.

Working with childcare experts and government departments, they came up with the idea of mobile childcare units that could follow the women as they moved between worksites. The education ministry trained carers and UNICEF provided tents to house the mobile creches.

a picture of a crechè
The creches not only allow the mothers to work more easily, but improve their children’s prospects. Image: World Bank

The creches allow children to take part in activities which help them learn to speak and count, as well as engage in creative play. It also provides women with employment opportunities as caregivers and educators. “This has changed how people think about childcare, which was undervalued and usually underpaid because it was not regarded as involving any actual job skills,” says Mayor Ouédraogo.

“There has been a huge difference in my life after I joined the public works programme,” said one mother who benefitted from the scheme. “With the money I earned I was able to buy two coolers to sell fresh water and juices.”

Another mother remarked that, “Thanks to the mobile childcare, I know how to better handle and stimulate a child.”

Bridging the gender gap

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020 found that, although women’s educational attainment, health and survival were improving across the world, economic participation and opportunity had actually worsened since the last re

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Art has the power to change the world, says this renowned Iranian muralist

European Commission welcomes the positive assessment about how it has managed the EU budget

New seat projections for the next European Parliament EU28

FROM THE FIELD: Liberia boosts efforts to guard against rising seas

3 ways to protect your mental health during – and after – COVID-19

Protecting the ocean is key to fighting climate change

MEPs call for binding 2030 targets for materials use and consumption footprint

More than one million sexually transmitted infections occur every day: WHO

Brexit: visa-free access to the EU for UK nationals and to the UK for Europeans

‘Good enough’ global cooperation is key to our survival

5 key themes for reforming the EU, as elections loom

Mental Health: Role of the individual for their well-being in the pandemic

EU leaders prepare timetable and structure for EU budget negotiations

Whale populations are slowly recovering – this is why

EU’s VAT system further equipped to tackle fraud in e-commerce and to help small businesses grow

State aid: Commission approves €380 million German rescue aid to Condor

Member States agree to Commission proposal to support Irish beef producers impacted by market uncertainty

Got the blues? Head for some green spaces

This is how Copenhagen plans to go carbon-neutral by 2025

Meet Cipta: the comic book hero using her powers to tackle bullying in schools

Further reforms will promote a stronger and more inclusive Hungarian economy

UN chief appeals for calm as Mali presidential election draws to a close

Hatred ‘a threat to everyone’, urges Guterres calling for global effort to end xenophobia and ‘loathsome rhetoric’

Health inequalities in the 21st century

Here’s why infrastructure will make or break our response to climate change

Autonomous weapons that kill must be banned, insists UN chief

Mobile Technology saving lives, the way forward

Sassoli to EU institutions: “Be brave on EU recovery plan”

Rule of law in Hungary: Parliament calls on the EU to act

Mental health: fighting the hidden pandemic

5 key concepts for blockchain newbies

Do doctors need to know their patients’ sexual orientation and gender identity?

On World Health Day, new report says the world needs 6 million more nurses

More women than ever before are running for political office in the US

Climate change: cutting the good by the root?

Creative Europe: 30 years of support to European films and cultural and creative media works

Commission proposes to purchase up to 300 million additional doses of BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine

What can the military teach us about keeping the lights on?

Venezuela migrant crisis begs a ‘coherent, predictable and harmonized’ response: UNHCR

Young people are not a nameless, faceless mass. So why do we treat them as such?

Commission presents far-reaching anti-tax evasion measures

Getting people with disabilities into work requires data

Why cybersecurity should be standard due diligence for investors

UN chief hails Libyan leaders’ agreement to hold general election

UN chief appeals to G7 leaders for ‘strong commitment’ and political will to tackle climate emergency

Illegal fishing: EU lifts Taiwan’s yellow card following reforms

Vulnerable children face ‘dire and dangerous’ situation on Greek island reception centres, UNICEF warns

To win combat against HIV worldwide, ‘knowledge is power’, says UNAIDS report

Antitrust: Commission consults stakeholders on guidance for national courts when handling disclosure information

How digital is your country? Europe needs Digital Single Market to boost its digital performance

New neighbours: Could Venus really be home to alien life?

Coronavirus: Commission proposes €4.5 million to support over 5,000 dismissed tourism workers or self-employed in Estonia

Moving from a promise made in Sweden towards hope for peace in Yemen

An alternative to the future of antimicrobial therapy

Here’s how the EU is doing on gender equality

FROM THE FIELD: Enslaved Guatemalan indigenous women wait for reparations

UN boosts humanitarian appeal to help tackle Zimbabwe’s ‘worst-ever’ hunger crisis

Norway is returning Easter Island artefacts to Chile (Will Britain ever return the marbles to Greece?)

As the year closes out, UN political chief talks the art of diplomacy – and crises to watch in 2019.

Refugees in Greece: MEPs demand solidarity, warn about impact of health crisis

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s