Partner coalition mobilises for ending violence against children at the EDDs 2017
Violence affects more than 1 billion children around the world every year and occurs in every country and every community. Their vulnerability is especially acute in fragile and conflict-affected contexts: According to UNICEF, every five minutes, a child is killed by violence. “Some children have lost hope, they have the feeling that nothing will change. Most of the time people talk about peace, but then you see people fighting again and again. It leads children to think that nothing will change in South Sudan,” said Mary, a World Vision Young Delegate from South Sudan. The story that Mary told a session at the European Development Days (EDDs) in Brussels is unfortunately experienced by too many children. That’s why ChildFund Alliance, the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, UNICEF, WHO, the European External Action Service and World Vision are coming together at the EDDs to discuss ways to mobilise partnerships and investment to end violence against children and to explore new approaches to end it in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. Protecting children is also a commitment reflected in several EU policies that aim to leave no one behind through an integrated approach when responding to crisis. The event aligns with a growing global demand to shift the political and public discourse from acknowledging the scale to solving this problem. “Witnessing or experiencing violence means a child is less likely to have a happy and successful future” said Noala Skinner, Director of the UNICEF Brussels Office. “The scars often last a life time. So by protecting children from violence, we can give them the chance to fulfil their potential, and ultimately also contribute to the development of their societies.” Everybody, including non-traditional aid actors, can play a role in ensuring children have a healthy, safe and secure environment that protects them from violence and exploitation. “Community and religious leaders must be placed at the center of the fight to end violence against children as FGM / C and to increase awareness of laws and policies at the community level. In Guinea more than anywhere else, having Imams and traditional leaders on your side is essential to unlock certain social norms on which violence against children as FGM / C is based,” said Laurance Uwera, Programme Director, ChildFund GuineaViolence against children is widespread but it can be prevented. Especially, in emergency situation and fragile country contexts, children need safe environments to benefit from other interventions like education and health. Children and young people themselves can play a transformative role in the process to end violence against them. This should be supported by making sure that enabling environments and safe spaces are created, where they feel safe to speak out, are listened to and meaningfully engaged in the policies and programs that affect them. Ending violence against children is everybody’s business.