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Invisible Girls

Building the evidence to prevent and respond to child domestic work

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The Invisible Girls research programme aims to raise the visibility and voices of child domestic workers. This programme is designed to generate intervention-focused evidence to guide programming and policies that reduce the number of girls entering domestic work and promote a brighter future for current child domestic workers. 

The Gender, Violence & Health Centre (GVHC) at LSHTM, are working closely with the Millby Foundation and international and local partners in South-East Asia, to develop truly feasible and affordable responses to support girls in domestic work.


The Invisible Girls research portfolio consists of wide range of activities to develop the evidence base for future work on child domestic work. The work included evidence synthesis, scoping and mapping work, secondary data analyses, development of measurement tools and conceptual frameworks to inform intervention development.

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Child domestic work

Global estimates suggest that 17.2 million children are engaged in domestic work, of whom most are girls. Child domestic workers frequently work extremely long hours, rarely attend school and may suffer physical, verbal and sometimes sexual abuse and the mental and physical health consequences.

Intervention development research and evaluation

Few interventions assist current child domestic workers. We use intervention development research and evaluation methods to help design and test interventions for these hard-to-reach or invisible girls.

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Complexity framework for interventions on child domestic work
Complexity framework for child domestic workers

Child domestic work is a practice that is affected by multiple structural, social, economic and personal conditions. Therefore, effective intervention strategies require multi-component responses that take account of various factors that occur at a child’s place of origin and her destination. This briefing note depicts our intervention conceptual framework that highlights the multiple drivers and influences to consider when developing interventions to prevent and address child domestic work.

Complexity framework for child domestic workers
Measurement of child domestic work and child labour

Measuring child domestic work can be challenging, especially in general household surveys. Child domestic workers may be misidentified as ‘fostered’ or overlooked as workers.  Our briefing note and corresponding journal article describe current prevalence estimates for selected Southeast Asian countries, highlight questions used to ascertain prevalence and note current instrument limitations.

Child domestic work and abuse

Child domestic workers are especially vulnerable to various health, safety and child development risks, such as occupational hazards, long work hours, verbal harassment, physical abuse and, in some cases, sexual abuse. Findings from our rapid systematic review on outcomes associated with child domestic work aim to guide potential interventions to support the health and well-being of children in domestic work. Results are summarized in our briefing note and journal article.

Employers of child domestic workers

Employers of child domestic workers set children’s work conditions, which determine their health, safety and well-being. Our briefing note and corresponding scoping report describe how employers view their household helpers and their perceptions of the challenges, benefits and responsibilities of employing young people and employers’ opinions about potential interventions to support girls’ education, vocational training and life skills support.


Interventions for child domestic workers

Children in domestic work are frequently isolated and cut off from education, social life and assistance options. To date, there has been little evidence about the effectiveness of activities specifically targeted to reach child domestic workers. Our briefing note and journal article offer the results of our systematic review of published literature on evaluations of interventions for child domestic workers.

Service mapping

Given the limited interventions focused currently on child domestic work, globally and the absence of services in Myanmar, we mapped local referral resources to support the safe conduct of research with youth, ascertain potential intervention partners for intervention development and to start to build an advocacy network. Our briefing note and corresponding report describe the variety of services that are potentially suited to meet the various needs of child domestic workers in Myanmar.  

Ethical and safeguarding guidance for co-produced research with youth on youth in risk situations

While there has been a growing body of guidance for ethical research with youth, to date, there has been little to no research to test and evaluate guidance specifically for research about young people in risk situations that is co-produced with youth. This briefing note describes our current research to develop and test in multiple in multiple regions an ethical and safeguarding protocol for research with youth in risk situations. 

Invisible Girls Publications
Child Domestic Work, Violence, and Health Outcomes: A Rapid Systematic Review
Thi, A.M.; Zimmerman, C.; Pocock, N.S.; Chan, C.W.; Ranganathan, M.
International journal of environmental research and public health. 2022, 19, 427.
Evaluations of Interventions with Child Domestic Workers: A Rapid Systematic Review
Kyegombe N, Pocock NS, Chan CW, Blagbrough J, Zimmerman C.
International journal of environmental research and public health. 2021 Sep 25;18(19):10084. doi: 10.3390/ijerph181910084.
Suitability of Measurement Tools for Assessing the Prevalence of Child Domestic Work: A Rapid Systematic Review
Pocock, N. S., Chan, C. W., & Zimmerman, C.
International journal of environmental research and public health. 2021 18(5), 2357.
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Honorary Associate Professor


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