From 8-10 of December, End Violence grantees from around the world gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to share their experiences, learn from solutions, and grow through challenges related to their Fund-supported projects.
“Over the last three years, we have seen that our investment portfolio of $32 million focused on preventing and ending online child sexual exploitation and abuse has turned into a collaborative network of diverse organisations who share their learnings, knowledge and solutions,” said Marija Manojlovic, End Violence’s Strategy, Data and Innovation Advisor. “This has become invaluable, as it enables cross-fertilisation and pushes collaborative solutions.”
Throughout the course of the convening, participants strategized how to better collaborate across sectors; enhance their measurement of programmes; and improve their communication on results. They also discussed the latest technological tools and innovative practices to protect children; and enhanced their ability to engage industry actors, among much more.
Importantly, participants had time to share, learn and reflect on the interlinkages and overlaps between new forms of abuse facilitated by technologies and other forms of violence. This framing is essential, as often, abuse online does not always stay online – it can be manifested into the physical world as well.
"If you don’t have a mechanism to bring people together to share knowledge and experiences, we’re going to be operating in a vacuum,” said Daniel Kardefelt-Winther, Research Lead, Children and Digital Technology at the UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti. “Having a space like this – and a week like this – where people come together, learn from each other and share experiences is tremendously important for everyone’s work.”
Over the last three years, End Violence has invested $32 million in 37 initiatives through the End Violence Fund. Each of these initiatives – from Peru to the Philippines – has been focused on ending online child sexual exploitation and abuse, and each grantee has tackled this issue in different ways.
One of those initiatives is in the Philippines, where the International Justice Mission has helped Filipino authorities rescue 150 children from ongoing situations of online sexual exploitation and abuse. Another is in Mexico, where the Child Rights Protection Office (ODI) has trained nearly 1,000 lawyers and caseworkers to handle cases of online child sexual exploitation and abuse. And yet another can be found in Ghana, where UNICEF is working closely with the National Cybersecurity Crime Centre to integrate online child protections into the country’s national cybersecurity strategy.
Having worked on projects like these, grantees came to the convening with a wealth of experience and expertise – and once together, grantees were able to share that knowledge among one another.
"There's a conceptual collaboration that is extremely helpful," said Margarita Griesbach, Director of ODI in Mexico. "Hearing about how other people have solved issues, hearing about how they have approached them, you are constantly taking notes of things you could incorporate into your own work."
They also participated in sessions built to improve their work, all of which were created with the grantees themselves. This included a panel on technology, which was co-organised in partnership with the End Violence Investors' Forum.
"We often have a tendency in organisations to focus in on our own particular strategy, our own particular niche, and our own particular theory of change," said Seán Coughlan, the Executive Director of the Human Dignity Foundation. "I think the real power of events like this is that it gives all of us time and space to sit back and actually move up a level. Rather than looking at something at 3,000 feet, we're able to move up to the 30,000-foot level collectively, and see where all of us are working and how we can complement and support each other in our work."
At this panel and at the following reception, grantees interacted with current and potential donors in the space, sharing their progress and future plans to protect children.
The grantee convening was the first of its kind for End Violence. It took place before the WePROTECT Global Alliance Global Summit, which will gather political leaders, international organisations, technology experts, and child protection specialists together to work toward ending online child sexual exploitation and abuse.
At this event, which will take place from 11-12 December, WePROTECT will release its second Global Threat Assessment Report, which provides updated insights and statistics into the nature, scale and complexity of online child sexual exploitation and abuse.
“The End Violence Partnership is really a partnership,” said Frauke de Kort, the Chief of Adolescent Development, Education and Protection at UNICEF Namibia. “Through the convening, we had the opportunity to meet people face-to-face and follow up on good examples that are already available…this is crucial because we don’t want to make the same mistakes and we hear ideas we might not have thought about.”
The grantee convening was made possible by the support of End Violence's generous donors, including the UK Home Office, Oak Foundation, and the Human Dignity Foundation.
"Ultimately, we are here not to further the success of our individual organisations. Ultimately, we're here to serve and support children," said Coughlan. "The only way we're going to do that effectively, and the way we maximise the use of the collective resources we have, is by looking for those opportunities for collaboration and cooperation. It's only at events like this that we get the time and space to have those conversations and move forward in a much more meaningful and impactful way."