Participation tools (I): Body Mapping

Body Mapping: Likes and dislikes of child work

One of the essential consultation tools is the “Body Map” which allows us to explore the likes and dislikes of children’s work and how this work impacts different aspects of their lives. One side of the body represents things they like about the work they do and the positive impact work has on their lives; the other side shows things they do not like about the work they do and the negative impact that work has on their lives. The children are invited to label the single body parts according to their working experiences they associate with them.

Objective: To explore children´s likes and dislikes about the work they do and how work impacts on different aspects of their lives.

Time needed: 60 to 90 minutes

Use with: Groups of children, ideally in small focus groups with similiar gender, age and type of work. Can use with children aged 5 years and older, but for children under age of 8 years ask less questions e.g. focus on changes relating to fewer body party and just ask the first question for each body part.

Materials: Flipchart paper, flipchart pens (non-permanent markers), tape


Notes for facilitators:
  1. The body map acitvity should be facilitated in seperate groups of girls or boys aged 5-7 years, 8-12 years or 13-17 years bringing together five to ten children who do similiar work.
  2. In order to understand the complexity of children´s working lives it is important that the facilitator encourages children to think about and to share both their likes and dislikes about the work and chores that they do, and that all children´s views are carefully documented. Open guiding questions are included to help explore different aspects of children´s working experiences.
  3. If children are doing multiple tasks then encourage children to mention (and document) which task any specific like or dislike relates to. For example, I like spending time with my friends when I am working in the market; I don´t like it when my parents tell me off for not completing my household chores in time.

Practical steps:

  1. Divide the children into separate age, gender and working background groups. For example, all girls aged 8-12 years who are involved in domestic work go in one group. All boys aged 8-12 years who are involved in agricultural work go in another group.
  2. For each group stick a few flipchart sheets together and place them on the floor. Ask for a volunteer child to lie on the sheets so that the shape of their body may be drawn around. If a girl volunteers ask for other girls to draw around their body shape with crayons or non-permanent pens. If a boy volunteers ask for other boys to draw their body shape. Note: If children hesitate to volunteer to make the body shape, then either a body shape can be drawn freehand or the facilitator could volunteer for their shape to be drawn around.
  3. In each group encourage the children to sit around the ‘body map’. Explain that this child represents girls or boys like them. Draw a vertical line down the middle of the body map, so that one side represents a happy child = things they like about the work they do and the positive impact work has on their lives; and the other side represents a sad child, showing things they do not like about the work they do and the negative impact that work has on their lives.
  4. On the bottom of the Body Map, just under the feet, encourage children to first list the work (paid work and non-paid work they are doing, including chores / tasks they do in their families or care settings). If children have completed the timeline activity they can look at their timelines to help make a list of the main work that they are doing. They can list the paid work they are doing, as well as the non-paid chores they are doing. It will also be helpful to include information about whether they are going to school or not. For example:
    Body Map of:Girls age 8-12 years who work as waste collectors in the market, Delhi, India
    Paid work:Waste collection
    Non-paid chores:Helping wash dishes, looking after younger siblings
    School:We attend the local government school 5 days/week
  5. Use the body parts to share and record their likes and dislikes about the work they do and the impact that work has on their lives. Depending on their age and writing skills, either the activity can be facilitated with one facilitator noting down children’s responses. Or children can write their responses on small pieces of paper and put them on the big body.

The next step is to explore children´s views and experiences about child work and to record the positive and negative aspects. Each part of the body represents a different aspect. For example, the head stands for knowckledge children get when working or what worries they have.  Another example is the mouth. It stands for how children communicate with other people when working or how do people commuicate with them. You can read more about the questions to explore children´s views and experiences about child work in our toolkit on page 23.