Violence against children creates a horrible human and social cost, but beyond that, is its staggering economic cost. It deprives the world of bright and inventive minds that could contribute as mature adults and help grow the global economy, especially in developing countries where growth is a vital path out of crushing inequality. This was one of the key messages that emanated from the recent gathering of ChildFund CEO’s, Chairs and Board members in Brussels, where they spoke with one voice.
Here are some of the most striking statistics that helped contextualise discussions, and reinforce the importance of making child protection a priority for world and European leaders alike:
139 million babies will be born during 2016. Between 2016-30 (the term of the SDG’s) approximately 4.2 billion global citizens will be children. Despite their significant stake in society, children disproportionally suffer the consequences of exclusion, inequality and poverty. Children make up more than 50% of the worlds poor and poverty takes the lives of 22,000 of them under the age of five, every single day. Violence against children is a truly global problem that cuts across class, ethnicity, race and religion. 1 in every 6 children in the developing world is engaged in child labour. 150 million girls and 73 million boys worldwide were raped or subject to sexual violence in one twelve month period alone. Some 3 million girls and women are subject to FGM (female genital mutilation) every year. These are damming statistics that underscore the massive scope of the problem. They present a powerful case for increased child protection, for making it nothing less than an urgent global priority. This is the message ChildFund CEO’s are sending out loud and clear, and its one we want global leaders to listen to at the crucial Addis Ababa summit in July.
Aside from the senior members of ChildFund global network, the Meeting was addressed by several experts in child protection and policy, and included an address by Mr Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management, pictured below, speaking to delegates.
Mr Styliandes has a number of very important briefs around the world, managing numerous on-going crises. He was singled out for specific praise by the ChildFund Alliance members, for his impressive work as EU Ebola Coordinator, helping to manage the Ebola emergency in West Africa. In particular, his attention to the needs of vulnerable children during the crisis was noted, and praised.
As the crucial funding conference for the SDG’s (Sustainable Development Goals) draws closer, the importance of the decisions that will be made cannot be overstated. These decisions will have huge ramifications for children, shaping their futures for the next 15 years. ChildFund Alliance members believe that adequate resources for children’s well-being and protection will build confidence around the new SDG’s, and form part of a global vision that no child should live in fear of being violated or exploited. Efforts to end poverty should be focussed on the most vulnerable children, including those living in fragile and conflict affected states. At a European and global level, investment in child protection has been clearly established as an essential building block of sustainable development. It is vital therefore that we seize this opportunity to advance children’s rights, and make sure their voices are heard at the conference in Addis Ababa, and beyond.
Footnote: The list of those shown in the top photograph is as follows:
Group photo from Left to Right – Barbara Holzbaur (Chair of ChildFund Deutschland), Lennart Wiklund (Chair of Barnfonden, Sweden), Bolette Christianson (CEO of BØRNEfonden, Denmark), Brendan Kenny (Chair of ChildFund Ireland), Stine Bosse (Chair of BØRNEfonden, Denmark), Anne Lynam-Goddard (President and CEO of ChildFund International, USA), Solène Edouard (Acting Sec Gen of ChildFund Alliance), Joern Ziegler (CEO of ChildFund Deutschland), Clotilde Crozier (Deputy Chair of Un Enfant Par la Main, France), Paul Newbigging (Board Member of CCF Canada & Vice Chair of ChildFund Alliance) Florence Provendier (CEO of Un Enfant Par la Main, France), Carolina Ehrnrooth (CEO of Barnfonden, Sweden), Michael Kiely (CEO of ChildFund Ireland), Jose Faura (CEO of Educo, Spain), Hector Litvan (Board Member of Educo, Spain)
Absent from the photo is Kristin Hedström (Director of the ChildFund EU Liaison Office)