67 policies from 36 countries contest for Future Policy Award received
For majority of children in Ghana, violence is an unfortunate part of their everyday life. According to official statistical reports, 9 out of 10 children are exposed to mental or physical violence, and physical punishment is a common phenomenon. More shocking are the figures for sexual violence: one out of five girls is sexually abused. There is an urgent need for action to protect children from violence! For girls and boys who experience and survive violence or abuse, a central, child-friendly centre providing the most essential services under one roof would be established from the first quarter of 2019, where trained personnel from the Social Welfare, Domestic Violence Unit of the Police Service (DOVVSU) and Ghana Health Service are available to offer prompt, secured and confidential service to victims. Our team conducted a technical workshop with representatives of Ministries and other key stakeholders responsible for child protection in Ho, South-East Ghana together with experts from Zanzibar to discuss and develop a roadmap to establish a pilot in Accra. These are the main results at a glance.
In November 2017, the World Future Council Foundation invited political decision-makers from 12 African and Asian countries to Zanzibar to acquaint themselves with the country’s comprehensive Children’s Act and its implementation. Zanzibar won the Gold Award of the “Political Oscar” Future Policy Award in 2015.
The Ghanaian delegation, consisting of representatives from the Department of Children of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare and the Law Faculty of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration were inspired by the one-stop-center model that Zanzibar has currently implemented in 6 out of 11 districts.
What is a one stop center?
One-Stop-Center (OSC) are central contact points for children and their families affected by (sexualised) violence. Here survivors can find psycho-social support, a police office to initiate criminal investigation as well as medical treatment including collection of forensic evidence under one roof. Ideally, legal help is part of the centre. The graphic illustrates the model:
As an important element of a strong national child protection system, the one-stop-centres provide survivors (girls and boys, women and men) with various initial services under one roof. As a result, the affected person does not have to go through the trauma of narrating the incident several times and also receives quick help. It helps parents stay focused on treating their child and persecuting the perpetrator. In cases without the OSC, survivors mostly have to visit different institutions – that costs money and time and often parents lose the momentum to persue the case. The later a case is reported, the harder it is to gather evidence of abuse on a child’s body.
Ideally, a one-stop center provides four services and is usually docted at a hospital:
- Psycho-social support – this is where the first interview takes place and the social worker decides which further steps are required. If there is an abuse / violence, the child will be escorted to the next room, where a police officer in civilian clothes and trained in child-friendly behaviour will fill in the form to follow up the case.
- Medical examination: in a third room, a medical doctor takes care of the child. Here the first medical and forensic examinations take place. If the child needs further special treatment, it will be treated immediately in the hospital.
- The employees of the one-stop-center are provided by the relevant ministries (Health, Interior, Family Affairs) and the Centre is (at best) coordinated by the Ministry of Health. All employees receive same training so they can better collaborate and follow same procedures and guidelines in writing the reports. This makes it easier for the police and the courts to track and prosecute cases.
- Support for counseling and legal aid is ideally offered in the fourth room.
Ghana on the way to pilot a one stop centre
After intensive discussions with the Department of Children from April 2018, the World Future Council Foundation organised a technical workshop to fully introduce the state agencies in the establishment and management of a one-stop-center model in Ghana from the 25-27 November 2018. We invited experts from Zanzibar to Ghana: Deputy Chairwoman Halima Abdallah, who spearheaded the establishment of the One-Stop-Center in the Ministry of Family and Health, Dr. Marijani, who has been responsible for medical and forensic investigations since its implementation in 2011, and Farshuu Khalfa, head of a one-stop center in Stone Town. Their insights, expertise and practical experience were most welcome and helpful in drawing up the roadmap for Ghana.
Under the auspices of the Children’s Department, 30 key representatives and decision-makers took part in the workshop to discuss the need for the OSC and to develop the roadmap for a pilot program. The participants represented the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, the Social Welfare Department and the specialised Domestic Violence Unit of the Police service – DOVVSU. Medical representative and international child rights organisations including ActionAid, World Vision, International Needs, UNFPA and UNICEF were also present.
The most important results of the workshop at a glance:
- Development of a roadmap for the establishment of a pilot in Accra
- National coordination agency of the One-Stop-Center pilot program will be the Ministry of Health with support of other ministries
- An inter-ministerial conference is scheduled for the first quarter of 2019 to decide on the roadmap and timetable
- A core group will identify a possible location for the pilot program in Accra
Last week, the World Future Council was on a scoping mission to Ghana to introduce the model of one-stop-centers to stakeholders in Ghana. The aim is to build on the existing structures to strengthen the child protection system in Ghana. Together with the Department of Children we had good discussions with the National Child Protection Committee in Accra and the Northern Regional Child Protection Committee in Tamale. We met dedicated and engaged partners and look forward to work with them on a pilot in November this year.
The one-stop-centers provide essential services for survivors of abuse under one roof. During our international conference on child protection we hosted in Zanzibar last year, we introduced the model of one-stop-centers, which inspired Ghanaian policy makers attending the conference. The Zanzibar’s Children’s Act 2011, which won our Gold Future Policy Award in 2015, layed the foundation for the child protection system in Zanzibar.
Silver Winner of FPA 2015, Maryland, inspires education experts from China
Environmental Education has been a priority in the Chinese education system. But unfortunately, there was no significant increase in the students’ engagement for environmental protection so far. China is therefore interested in learning from successful models in other countries.
We organised a conference in Maryland in 2016, and presented their award-winning Environmental Literacy Standards. During the conference, we looked into the success factors of the legislation which aims to educate students to become environmentally and sustainability aware citizens.
A Chinese delegation has also been present back in 2016. Inspired by the conference, they now visited Maryland again and met with officials at Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). They discussed various topics and questions, for instance regarding the curriculum framework and the relationship between government environmental agencies and school systems. How to provide more suitable materials and publicity channels for environmental education? How to improve the teaching staff’s environmental education level? And how to raise national awareness of environmental protection and establish public awareness of environmental supervision?
The delegation would like to conduct exchanges of experience in environmental education legislation in Maryland, particularly its experience in formulating environmental education standards, as well as successful cases of environmental improvement through education.
The World Future Council facilitated the meeting will follow up on this topic with the Chinese delegation.
Students from Hamburg’s Julius-Leber-School (second level school) research living sustainably and support the work on “Rights of Children” at the World Future Council.
This is one of the times when we ask ourselves: who is helping whom? Are we helping the children and adolescents, or are they helping us?
The collaboration with the Julius-Leber-School in Hamburg began with an Erasmus+ project, called sustain.me, which was attended by the head of our Rights of Children department Samia Kassid in the early summer of last year. As part of sustain.me, second-level students from Germany, France, Belgium, Italy and Spain came together to work together on the project on sustainability. The students have been dealing with the topic, sustainability, for two school years and have taken a close look at areas such as nutrition, waste, consumption, fast fashion and clothing, tourism and sustainable living. The Hamburg students were experts on fast fashion and clothing. The event in Hamburg gave us, at the World Future Council, an exciting opportunity to share many insights into children’s rights with the students. We explained what children’s rights are and where and how they are being ignored, such as child labor in the clothing industry.
A year later we received a message from the teacher Marion Walsh: The students had collected donations for us during the school year and she asked if it were possible for them to visit us. Of course we agreed and they came to the Hamburg Foundation Office. Along came the students, Aysenur, Begüm and Sanja, we were extremely impressed by their dedication to the cause.
The three young women could not let go of the topic: “We must leave a healthy planet for future generations,” says the 18-year-old Begüm and everyone has the opportunity to contribute to this! Since then, the students have given presentations to children from various levels, like 6th grade, on the topic of children’s rights and sustainability. They have talked to them about plastic in the oceans, violations of human rights in the value chains of the textile industry and how everyone can reduce their ecological footprint in everyday life, for example, through waste prevention or conscious shopping. They have also used the books and information distributed by the World Future Council to support their research. Amongst many lessons (students-teaching-students) they have held workshops with the students where they learned to make their own organic creams and scrubs thus demonstrating that these feel-good homemade products and gifts are not only more sustainable, but also more personal. All of this in English, of course. They question their own consumer behaviour and for them it is clear: It does not have to be meat every day and you can do without buying the clothes from the cheap chains.
At the annual school’s Christmas “open door day” and during school breaks, Aysenur, Begüm and Sanja set up a donation box for the World Future Council. Last week at our Hamburg office, the heavy box was handed over and we were delighted by the generous donation! Begüm even volunteered to give an interview in which she talked about her activities. We were thrilled with the dedication and enthusiasm of these young women and this not only contributed to an all-round good mood, but we also received a lot of input and inspiration for our work.
Begüm is one of the students from the Julius-Leber-School in Hamburg, who has passed on her knowledge on children’s rights, environmental protection and sustainability to younger students.
We would like to thank the pupils of the Julius-Leber-Schule for their commitment to present and future generations, when it comes to sustainability, and for their support for the World Future Council. A special thanks go to Aysenur, Begüm and Sanja as well as Marion Walsh. We plan to keep in touch with each other and look forward to collaborating again in the future.
From the 28 – 30 November the World Future Council (WFC) hosted an international child rights conference in Zanzibar to explore the positive impacts of Zanzibar’s Children’s Act and share success stories on child protection, child friendly justice and participation from around the world. Representatives of ministries and policymakers from 12 countries, mainly from Africa and Asia, alongside experts on children’s rights and representatives from civil society drew up the Zanzibar Declaration on Securing Children’s Rights, committing themselves to taking strong action to eradicate all forms of violence against girls and boys. The assembly greatly benefited from the expertise and passion of two WFC Councillors Dr. Gertrude Ibengwé Mongella, former President of the Pan-African Parliament and Dr. Auma Obama, Chair and Founder of the Sauti Kuu Foundation.
Securing Child Rights in Zanzibar
Some of the loudest applause at our recent international gathering of child rights policy-makers in Zanzibar came after the representative from Indonesia took to the floor to list his key priorities for progress on child rights law: “implementation, implementation and implementation!” he boomed to a receptive audience. That this struck a chord with the assembled delegates is testament to the long history of good laws on paper and poor on-the-ground enactment that still plagues child rights policies around the world. It was to tackle this problem that over 100 participants from 15 countries were gathered by the World Future Council in Zanzibar last month, eager to learn and share best practice. We came to see for ourselves how this semi-autonomous island region of Tanzania had made some decisive moves to deliver real progress in how children experience justice and protection.
This was well illustrated by a series of field trips our visiting international legislators made to Zanzibar’s new or improved child rights institutions. One of the striking things you immediately notice is the child-friendly atmosphere that has been created throughout the system. At the new Children’s Court murals adorn the walls, staff dress in civilian clothes and closed circuit video links mean young people can give evidence in a non-threatening environment. The new One Stop Centres, which comprise a 3-room unit of plain clothed police officers, medical personnel and counsellors who provide health, legal and psychosocial services to survivors of violence 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, reduce the trauma of victims of abuse to a minimum while streamlining the collection of evidence and the provision of care.
Another clear feature of the system is coordination. The National Child Protection Unit (NCPU), is the coordinating agency responsible for the implementation of the national strategy. A small team coordinates responses across governmental sectors (social welfare, health, education, justice, etc.), and involves civil society, international agencies, families and children to ensure that child justice and protection is being delivered effectively. Similarly a new Child Rights Centre serves as a hub for civil society organisations working in the field of child rights, identifying gaps in training and filling them. From here the ‘Baba Bora’ (“good father”) campaign is run to engage fathers, men and boys in changing attitudes and behaviours toward women and children, promote gender equality and transform traditional beliefs and norms in order to promote non-violence. The campaign has got the islanders talking with local exhibitions on children’s views on positive parenting, public debates and even a popular R&B song promoting the message.
Of course, there is much still to do in Zanzibar to fully operationalise its child rights laws and action plans and ensure that the rights of children are truly safeguarded. But for many of us who have seen the system first-hand, the innovations and progress made were impressive, particularly given Zanzibar’s limited resources. If anything, it is the system-wide approach that can serve as a model for others. So why has similar progress been so slow in some other parts of the region?
“Because children don’t vote often the political class ignores them altogether”
Part of the answer is certainly the cost. Across the African continent, children represent close 50% of the population, but this does not translate into them becoming a priority in national planning and resourcing decisions. In fact as Dr. Nkatha Murungi from the African Child Policy Forum noted “Because children don’t vote often the political class ignores them altogether”. When there is funding and resourcing available, too much is dependent on external development partners.
Child protection services in the context of Africa require long term and sustainable investment in the social welfare workforce and developing an effective system and this doesn’t come cheap. The Zanzibar national plan of action will cost $4m annually over the next four years. But it’s clear that adequate budgeting is a crucial instrument for advancing the survival, protection and development of children, particularly in the case in Africa where there are huge unmet needs for access to basic services.
It’s also clear that there can be no better way of spending resources, no matter how scarce, than on our youngest citizens. After all investing in children is investing in the success of our collective future. Whether nations and societies grow and prosper will depend to a large extent on the health, education, protection and the ideas and innovations of the coming generations. We have a huge opportunity to make progress on child rights through the global sustainable development goals (SDGs) whether on poverty (Goal 1), hunger (Goal 2), health (Goal 3), education (Goal 4), gender equality (Goal 5), climate change (Goal 13) or violence against children (Goal 16.2). There’s also no time to lose; 1 year is 6% of a childhood. Any delay in protecting their interests is a lost opportunity. Let’s get to it!
This article by Jakob von Uexull was originally posted on his HuffPost blog
World Future Council organizes international child rights conference in Zanzibar with high-level political participants from across Africa and Asia
Hamburg/Zanzibar, 27th November 2017: The World Future Council (WFC) is organizing an international conference to exchange best practices and policies to tackle violence against children and youths. The conference is taking place in Zanzibar from 28 th to 30 th November. High-level policy-makers from across Africa, as well as Indonesia, Seychelles and Mauritius, are attending the conference. Zanzibar will host the conference as the winner of the World Future Council’s 2015 Future Policy Award, also known as the “Oscar for best policies”, for its Children’s Act. Read more
Sharing best practice and policy on child protection, justice and participation
Realising every child’s right to freedom from violence and to participation is a fundamental element of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Recent estimates show that at least one billion children are victims of violence every year. Violence against girls and boys in all its forms compromises all children’s rights and leaves not only long-lasting scars on children’s lives but also weakens social and economic progress.
In 2009, Tanzania and its semi-autonomous island region of Zanzibar was one of the first countries in Africa to undertake a national study on violence against children. In response to its findings, and to streamline national child rights legislation, the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar introduced a comprehensive children’s rights law. Zanzibar’s ‘Children’s Act’ was awarded the gold prize at our 2015 Future Policy Awards for its effective response to child abuse and violence and for its promotion and protection of child rights.
Following up on the awarding, the World Future Council is now organizing an international child rights conference in November in Zanzibar, offering participants, nominated by their ministries, from across Africa and internationally a platform to learn from the Zanzibar example and exchange best practice examples from their home countries.
Aims of the conference:
… to offer insights from Zanzibar’s Child Protection System and the Children’s Act to policy makers and technical experts from other jurisdictions
… to exchange best practice examples from countries across Africa and internationally on topics such as child rights, participation, child justice, protection and positive discipline
… to provide a platform and learn from each other and to mutually improve policies, practices and impacts for the benefit of children and young people, particularly those that are vulnerable
… to strengthen synergies and networks for multi-stakeholder dialogue and promote the ongoing improvement of child rights laws and policies through cross-border learning.
… to identify opportunities, trends and success factors for policy reform and progress in the child rights arena
Context of the conference:
With its specific target (16.2) on ending all forms of violence against children, ensuring their safety and protection as well as reiterating their rights to access justice and information, the 2030 Agenda adds further strong international impetus to ending violence against children. Good child rights laws, policies and practices and their effective implementation play a crucial role in meeting these aims and targets.
In the recent years, Zanzibar is increasingly working on the implementation of empowerment of children and women. A pioneering feature of the drafting phase of Zanzibar’s ‘Children’s Act’ was a child consultation process which provided young people with a strong role in the law’s development and led to a greater societal understanding of children’s rights. Another successful feature was the involvement of a wide range of relevant stakeholders (ministries, religious leaders, civil society groups etc) in the drafting phase and thereafter.
To promote a conducive policy environment to address child protection in Zanzibar a National Plan of Action to end violence against women and children (NAPVAC) (2011-2015), a national campaign and a child justice reform process were also undertaken. A very recent (2017) National Plan of Action to end Violence Against Women and Children (2017-2022) has also been introduced. Zanzibar’s Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (MKUZIII) stresses the importance of empowering women, protecting children, promoting gender equality and equity; all critical factors for Zanzibar’s economic and social transformation.
We hear a lot these days about the need to include children in decisions that affect them, but it’s a real pleasure when there’s a genuine commitment to participation that leads to positive real world impacts for children. It’s even more impressive when this commitment comes from a place with limited budgets and no shortage of alternative competing priorities. Such is the case in Zanzibar with its innovative Children’s Act (2011).