Child Protection Specialist
Child Protection Programme Division
UNICEF, New York, HQ
Education: Faculty of Law, Milton Campos (Brazil); European Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Democratization (Italy)
Field of Study: Law and Human Rights with focus on the Rights of the Child
Languages: English, Portuguese, French
“My experience at UNICEF has been one worth coming back to, time and time again.”
Before joining UNICEF, I worked in Brazil providing legal assistance to women and children victims of violence. This area of work always interested me and so I wanted to have a better understanding of women’s and children’s right to protection, particularly under international law. After obtaining my degree I was offered an internship and soon after a consultancy contract with UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre to support, among other areas of research, the development of the UN Study on Violence against Children.
In 2005, I took the position of Child Protection Officer in Mozambique. I was responsible for managing the programme component on prevention of violence against children. In 2007, I joined the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva as an Associate Human Rights Officer, to be part of the first team to support the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review. In 2009 I re-joined UNICEF as a Child Protection Specialist in Podgorica, Montenegro with the task to coordinate the Child Protection team. I am currently working with the Child Protection Section in NYHQ focusing on issues related to social norms and protection of children against violence.
No day is like another making the job interesting but challenging at the same. Being in Child Protection in HQ requires dividing your time and attention between different protection issues, and different countries and regions. Whatever the task at hand, a typical day starts and ends with the hope that you are doing your best to improve the lives of children.
My first field experience with UNICEF was unforgettable. I had the privilege to work in Mozambique with the most inspiring and motivating group of people. This was particularly visible during the 2007 flood response where hundreds of thousands of people were displaced. Partners from all sectors were quickly mobilised to provide relief and support to those that had lost everything. It was a demanding period of time, but you were always reminded by your peers of the importance of the work and what it aimed to achieve, and that was hugely gratifying.
The complexity of child protection can be challenging. It is a sector that requires addressing a number of issues facing children from a holistic approach. Laws, policies and services need to be in place to prevent and respond to violence but there is also a need to understand the socio-cultural norms that lead to harmful practices. Engaging with communities and families to understand how social norms govern behaviours and attitudes is crucial for programming. Promoting community-based dialogue on positive social change is also key to creating a safe and enabling environment for children.
My advice to aspiring UNICEF applicants - My advice would be for them to always remember why we are here and to never lose sight of such a worthy goal.