Last week I had the honor of speaking at an event called Wake Up! for Human Rights. At this event, each panelist spoke about their organization’s mission, goals and role in fighting for human rights. The audience heard incredible speakers from Ground Up Global, Pencils of Promise, Malaria No More, and finally myself representing the End Trafficking project at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. I spoke with pride about UNICEF’s holistic and sustainable approach to addressing systems and social norms in the realm of child protection. But what the audience doesn’t usually hear is that they can do something to change their everyday actions—that they can change the way they speak, and challenge the way that their friends act.
Tag Archives for "child protection"
From the moment our plane touched down in Quito, Ecuador, I was impressed by the natural beauty of this country. Ecuador is considered to be an upper-middle-income country, based on gross national income per capita. However, like in many countries, there are two very different realities for Ecuador’s citizens. The lowest fifth of the population, based on income, is very poor, and is comprised mostly of indigenous people. Even though the constitution guarantees equal rights for all, poverty and child development issues have hit indigenous Ecuadorians particularly hard.
Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier from Sierra Leone and the author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, has a remarkable story to tell. With incredible honesty and authenticity, he reveals the details of his experience as a child soldier during the civil unrest in Sierra Leone. As a child he was vulnerable to the persuasiveness of the armies, but re-entering civil society was a challenge. I invite you to hear Ishmael Beah’s powerful message on May 10 at the World Affairs Council in San Francisco.
Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending a screening of the documentary Not My Life, at American University in Washington D.C. The screening was coordinated by the End Trafficking team at UNICEF, our Global Citizenship Fellow Aarti Singh, and American University’s UNICEF Campus Initiative. The End Trafficking project is a U.S. Fund for UNICEF initiative that raises awareness about human trafficking and mobilizes communities to take meaningful action to help protect children.
You’ve likely seen the video, or the flurry of activity on Twitter, or pundits debating on television. Here are three things we want you to know about children in conflict.
One: This is not just about one person or one place.
The abuse of boys and girls during armed conflict is a global problem. Today, an estimated 250,000 children are associated with armed forces and groups in at least 20 countries around the world.
These children are robbed of their rights and their childhood. They are recruited into government armed forces and rebel groups to serve as combatants, cooks, porters, messengers, or in other roles. Girls are also recruited for sexual purposes or forced marriage. Many have been recruited by force, though some may have joined as a result of economic, social or security pressures. Displacement and poverty make children even more vulnerable to recruitment. The physical and psychological impact on children and their communities is devastating.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), also known as female circumcision, is a traditional cultural practice that in several African and Middle Eastern countries. To date, it has harmfully affected more than 100 million women. The practice has both short and long-term health repercussions, and cause enormous amounts of physical, psychological, and emotional pain. UNICEF and its partners launched a program called “Accelerating Change” which uses a culturally sensitive approach to end FGM/C. The approach uses dialog and social networking that involves all groups within a community, including religious leaders and young girls themselves. Rather than having outsiders come in to condemn FGM/C, the program avoids alienating those who practice FGM/C, and instead brings them around to voluntarily give up the practice, because they understand how it harms their girls.