Since its launch in July of 2016, the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children has promoted the concept of pathfinding, which aims to raise awareness, stimulate leadership commitment, galvanize action, and establish a standard of national violence prevention throughout the world. Today, 29 countries have joined the partnership as pathfinders, spreading the initiative's reach to every continent.
Pathfinding countries use the INSPIRE Seven strategies for Ending Violence Against Children to understand the drivers of violence and build integrated responses that improve the lives of children and young people. These strategies are seen throughout the pathfinding process, including but not limited to the creation of a country's national action plan to end violence.
Pathfinding countries are those whose government leaders do two things:
- Make a formal, public commitment to comprehensive action to end all forms of violence against children; and
- Request to become a pathfinder within the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children.
Within 18 months of pathfinding status being confirmed by the End Violence Secretariat, pathfinding country governments are expected to:
- Appoint a senior government focal point to lead the in-country process;
- Convene and support a multi-stakeholder group;
- Collect, structure and analyse data on violence against children;
- Develop an evidence-based and costed national action plan that sets commitments for three to five years, and a related resource mobilization plan; and
- Consult with children and adhere to partnership standards on child participation.
Ending violence through pathfinding: Uganda
Uganda is one of the youngest countries in the world. With nearly 70 per cent of its population under the age of 25, children outnumber adults by vast margins. Even so, in Uganda, young people are still experiencing high levels of violence, abuse and exploitation.
“Violence against children is a serious problem in Uganda, and on many occasions, it is treated as normal inside homes, schools and communities,” said Lydia Wasula, the National Coordinator of Orphans and Vulnerable Children Unit and the focal person between the Partnership and Uganda’s Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
To begin to remedy this situation, Uganda became a pathfinding country in September of 2016, receiving critical technical and strategic support from End Violence. Pathfinding countries make formal public commitments to address violence against children and then work to create National Action Plans so a comprehensive society-wide effort unfolds.
End Violence has played a critical leadership role in the Pathfinding process since its founding in 2016. As of August 2019, 26 countries, one territory and two cities have become Pathfinders.
“Uganda joined the Partnership to mobilise partners and come together for a common cause – ending violence against children,” Wasula said. “Ever since, we have brought synergies together to implement the INSPIRE strategies and are mounting pressure on all stakeholders to end violence against children.”
In 2018, Uganda released a national survey report on violence against children. This report broke down the context, prevalence and consequences of violence in Uganda, and offered evidence-based solutions to address such challenges.
“The Government of Uganda stands ready to use the Violence Against Children Study as a launching point to develop a comprehensive, evidence-based, and multi-sectoral action plan to prevent and respond to violence against children,” said Janat Mukwaya, the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, in the study’s forward. “I also believe the results of the Violence Against Children Study have come at an opportune moment to inform the National Child Policy and its attendant National Action Plan. Indeed, we aspire to use this unique opportunity to bring stakeholders from across all sectors together and endeavour to work as one to end violence against children in Uganda.”
Today, Uganda is using the results of the study to inform the country’s National Action Plan for Ending Violence Against Children, along with other critical new strategies. Earlier this year, for example, the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development developed a Multi-sectoral Framework for Adolescent Girls to focus specifically on violence against young women. This framework outlines the government’s commitment to coordinating, delivering and implementing a package of services for young women in Uganda. It also addresses past bottlenecks, including financing, service delivery, and communities’ limited knowledge of issues facing adolescent girls.
Over time, violence against children has jumped to the forefront of national dialogue – leading to a trickle-down effect in cities, villages and communities throughout the country.
“Children are now starting to understand and appreciate what violence is and how they can protect themselves from violence through reporting and tracking their experiences,” Wasula said. “We shall soon see an end to violence against children in Uganda.”
One in every four children in the world is living in a country affected by conflict or disaster. Children living in such contexts are more likely to experience violence, ranging from death, injury, sexual and gender-based violence, recruitment and use by armed forces and groups, and more. Prolonged exposure to violence, abuse and traumatic events is likely to impair children’s emotional and social development with devastating long-term impact on children and societies.
To ensure every child grows up safe and secure, the Global Partnership has committed to supporting pathfinding and other countries affected by humanitarian crisis. To that end, the Secretariat works closely with humanitarian actors such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Child Protection Area of Responsibility, the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation to ensure the integration of humanitarian and refugee situations in data collection, action plans and interventions to end violence for children.
It also ensures that this dimension is being taken into account as part of its partnership with the INSPIRE Working Group. The End Violence Secretariat supports existing pathfinding countries, additional countries affected by crisis, and humanitarian actors to access solutions, expertise and resources.
The Secretariat's support focuses on the following areas:
- The mapping of national action plans, and ensuring they are both inclusive and responsive to children experiencing conflict and crisis.
- The documentation of best practices as well as implementation and adaptation of the INSPIRE seven strategies in humanitarian contexts.
- In-country and remote technical support, including deployment to provide technical support on INSPIRE upon request; supporting countries to ensure they have an integrated approach across sectors; and facilitating linkages between humanitarian and development stakeholders.
- Building the capacity of governments and other relevant stakeholders through webinars and exchanges to ensure data collection efforts, interventions and national action plans include children affected by crisis.
- Advocating for more flexible and predictable resources among partners, donors and relevant stakeholders, and increasing global funding for children affected by crisis beyond traditional humanitarian funding sources.
Recent support included the organization and facilitation of a training on INSPIRE in June 2019 in Nigeria for 55+ members of the national technical working group on ending violence against children at the request of the government of Nigeria and in cooperation with UNICEF country office to facilitate the development of a comprehensive national action plan which takes into account all children, including those affected by humanitarian crisis.
Key interventions were identified and prioritized along with the seven INSPIRE strategies which will inform the development of the national action plan to end violence against children. Earlier findings of the Violence Against Children Survey report had indicated that approximately six out of 10 children had experienced some form of violence in Nigeria.
Children affected by the conflict in the North-East are particularly at risk of violence due to the continued insecurity, weakening of protective environment and coping mechanisms as well as displacement. Integrating this dimension in addressing violence against children is therefore key. In the future, the Secretariat will continue supporting pathfinding countries, interested governments and humanitarian actors to ensure that all children, including those affected by the crisis, can grow up safe and secure.
In addition to supporting each pathfinding country individually, the Secretariat is developing public resources to enhance practitioners’ goal of ending violence against children. The following resources are available to practitioners, regardless of their affiliation:
Schools and Master Classes
Schools and master classes, which will soon be credited training courses, are currently being piloted by the University of Edinburgh. While INSPIRE is harnessing policymakers and practitioners around a common set of strategies shown to reduce violence, practitioners are facing challenges to ensure these strategies are a good fit on the ground. These courses tackle the challenges organisations and individuals may face while translating INSPIRE to on-the-ground realities.
Our first course, which was held between 3-7 December 2018, brought together research practitioners from seven pathfinding countries, including Canada, Honduras, the Philippines, Romania, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. Our second course, which is slated for August 2019, will explore similar issues within online-offline violence prevention with eight pathfinding countries based in Asia.
The Global Ending Violence Against Children Knowledge Hub
In March 2019, working with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children, UNICEF and other partners, over 40 practitioners from around the world gathered to kick-off the Global Ending Violence Against Children Knowledge Network: A Forum for Users and Producers of Data.
The meeting helped End Violence and partners envision a role contributing to knowledge, information and a platform for exchange. The hub will complement the work of the UN Statistical Commission's Inter-agency and expert groups on violence against children, providing a bridge to the broader community working on related data, monitoring, evaluation and research. Serving as a broker of (and a linkage to) existing knowledge platforms — and capturing the tremendous progress of the larger violence prevention community — the hub will also manage access to INSPIRE tools and implementation information, expanding into untapped areas of collaboration across sectors. Stay tuned as we develop our dedicated site!