WASHINGTON, DC – A young Ethiopian girl dreamt of finishing school to become a health worker in her village. She was 13 when her father died, forcing her to leave school and enter the fields to pick coffee to help her family. During long days of work, she harvests, washes and sorts coffee cherries – exposed to sharp objects, pesticides and other hazardous chemicals – with her health and her future at risk.

To help combat child labor and make Ethiopian families less vulnerable to economic instability, the U.S. Department of Labor today announced the award of a $5 million cooperative agreement to Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere Inc. CARE is a non-profit organization based in Atlanta that works to reduce poverty in about 85 countries by helping communities in areas such as health, education, economic development, emergency relief and agriculture.

Administered by the department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, the agreement will support the “She Thrives” project’s focus on labor rights and on improving economic outcomes for women and adolescent girls in Ethiopia’s Gedeo zone and Ilubabor-Yayu district. CARE will work with vulnerable women and girls in the country’s coffee sector to challenge community social norms and traditions that promote child labor and gender inequality, and transform structures such as laws, policies and institutions to be more gender equitable and help reduce child labor there.

Currently, women and girls supply 70 percent of the labor in Ethiopia’s coffee sector. Agriculture is the leading sector for employment, and coffee is the number one agricultural export commodity to the U.S., one of Ethiopia’s largest trading partners.

ILAB promotes a fair global playing field for workers in the U.S. and around the world by enforcing trade commitments, strengthening labor standards and combating international child labor, forced labor and human trafficking.

Learn more about the department’s work.

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