Child Protection and Social Policy

© UNICEF Gambia

On a national level, activities of the Child Protection and Social Policy Advocacy programme emphasizes policy and legal reform, research, establishment of a child protection database, standards, strategies and procedures. The Gambia is a State Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, , and one of the few countries that has a comprehensive Children’s Act, which harmonises domestic laws with the Convention as well as with other child-focused international conventions and declarations.

As in other countries, despite the fact that this Act and the Convention defend children’s rights to protection, many children in The Gambia are still subjected to abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation, including sexual abuse and exploitation, child trafficking, harmful traditional practices such as FGM/C and early marriage, baby abandonment and corporal punishment in homes and institutions. UNICEF continues to work with the government and other partners to protect and promote children’s rights.

Activities of the Social Policy project facilitate the close monitoring of national efforts toward the achievement of the MDGs, as well as the full implementation of the CRC, Children’s Act 2005 and CEDAW. Gambian children and youth are strong participants in children’s rights advocacy. Numerous organizations such as Child Protection Alliance educate children on child rights and child protection issues and empower them to participate in national policy dialogue on matters that affect children. Children in The Gambia have participated in regional consultations on violence against children as well as contributing to a Study on Corporal Punishment in The Gambia and in turn, contributed to the UN Secretary General’s Study on Violence Against Children.

Nationwide, UNICEF is also working with Government's Birth Registration Unit to attain 90 per cent birth registration rates for under-fives by 2011. By providing access to birth registration in clinics, health centres, and hospitals that offer services such as immunization, prenatal and postnatal care, it is likely that through this integrated initiative The Gambia will reach the birth registration target. The rate was only 32 percent according to 2000 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICSII, 2000) and is currently 55% (MICS III Report, 2005/6).

UNICEF focuses on community empowerment through projects such as the joint project in the Upper River Region (URR). The international NGO Tostan, UNICEF and the government’s Women’s Bureau come together in a holistic approach to support the process of eliminating cruel and degrading treatment and harmful traditional practices such as early (childhood) marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). Currently the program is working with 80 communities in the region.

There are over 62,000 orphans and other vulnerable children (OVC) in The Gambia (Situational Analysis of OVC Report, 2004). UNICEF works with the Catholic Development Office (CaDO) to give support and ensure that OVC have access to basic social services such as education, nutrition and psychosocial care, while they still remain in the community. UNICEF also works with Christian Children’s Fund to provide services to children living and/or working on the streets at a drop-in centre in Kanifing Municipality. The services include family tracing and reunification as well as remedial education and health screening and referral.

UNICEF works with a wide range of duty-bearers such as the government, Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs), community members through the community child protection committees, professionals working with children, Community Management committees and other stakeholders to enable them to fulfil and promote the protection rights of children. In line with the theme of State of The World's Children’s Report 2007,, The Gambia also recognizes the importance of gender equality and the mainstreaming of gender in all its programming.

The Policy Advocacy and Partnership Development Project uses evidence generated by the Social Policy and Statistics Project. UNICEF Gambia applies the evidence-based approach for advocacy, policy dialogue, strategic partnerships development and behaviour change communication. This project has a national and area-based focus which aims to increase resource allocation and investment in children, and to foster social demand.


© UNICEF Gambia/2006/Downes-Thomas





UN Study on Violence Against Children


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