South Asia Initiative to End Violence against Children – SAIEVAC
© © SAIEVAC Secretariat/September 2011
The United Nations Secretary-General's Study on Violence against Children estimated in 2006 that every year between 41 and 88 million children in South Asia witness violence at home – the highest regional total in the world. Evidence also shows that half of the world’s child brides live in South Asia and that around 44 million children are engaged in child labour in the region. Sexual abuse and exploitation, as well as child trafficking and corporal punishment are also major concerns for countries in South Asia.
The scale of violence affecting girls and boys in all South Asian countries and in all settings demands an immediate, comprehensive and coordinated action. This was recognized by the participating governments at the 2005 Regional Consultation on Violence against Children in South Asia, Islamabad, which established the South Asia Forum for Ending Violence against Children (SAF) composed of representatives from the eight South Asian Governments, representatives of Civil Society/NGOs/UN agencies working on violence against children and representatives of children.
What is SAIEVAC
In June 2010 SAF was replaced by the South Asia Initiative to End Violence against Children (SAIEVAC), following an endorsement by the 3rd SAF Ministerial Meeting. At the 17th Summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in November 2011, SAIEVAC was awarded Apex Body status within SAARC. This makes SAIEVAC the unique SAARC Apex Body for Children. As Apex body it may be invited as guest to open inaugural and closing sessions of Summits, Council of Ministers and other Ministerial meetings providing an opportunity to speak about child protection at a strategic level. As a SAARC Apex Body, the SAARC Secretariat has also now entrusted SAIEVAC a greater role in all the activities pertaining to Children of SAARC and calls on SAIEVAC for guidance and support. Finally, the Apex Body status of SAIEVAC will contribute to keeping Member States accountable in relation to addressing violence against children.
SAIEVAC Vision and Objectives
SAIEVAC’s vision is that all children, girls and boys, throughout South Asia enjoy their right to an environment free from all forms of violence.
To ensure the realization of children’s rights as stated in the CRC and its Optional Protocols;
To prevent and respond to all forms of violence against children in all settings;
To reinforce regional cooperation to end violence against children in South Asia;
To promote the adoption, implementation, and monitoring of integrated national strategies with adequate budgets and resource allocation to prevent and protect children from violence and ensure response.
SAIEVAC has a five year workplan (2010-2015) aimed at developing and strengthening national child protection systems in the region, to effectively protect girls and boys from all forms of violence.
The workplan is a common regional strategic framework to coordinate and monitor progress annually. It places an emphasis on core child protection areas and certain identified issues: child marriage; sexual abuse and exploitation; corporal punishment; trafficking and child labour.
SAIEVAC has a Governing Board consisting of 13 Board Members: eight government representatives appointed by each Member State (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka), the chairperson of South Asia Coordinating Group on Action against Violence against Children (SACG, currently UNICEF ROSA), two child representatives (a girl and a boy) and two representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs) on rotation. SAIEVAC is chaired by a Chairperson from Member States on a rotational basis – currently by the Deputy Minister, Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled, Afghanistan. It has national coordinators (government officials) in each country and a Regional Secretariat headed by a Director General in Kathmandu.
• SAIEVAC has created a forum for dialogue, collaboration and information exchange on child protection between governments, children, civil society, UN agencies and international NGOs;
• In 2011, SAIEVAC leveraged USD 2.6 million from the SAARC Development Fund (SDF), for regional and country-level activities on child protection in South Asia for 2012-2015;
• SAIEVAC was officially registered in the Maldives and was awarded the SAARC Apex Body status in 2011;
• Participating governments have committed to take specific actions to end violence against children;
• SAIEVAC’s first Governing Board Meeting and Technical Consultation (2010) supported countries to strengthen their capacities for legal reform in child protection;
• SAIEVAC’s second Governing Board Meeting and Technical Consultation (2011) supported countries to strengthen their capacities to set up and monitor care standards and child friendly services for child protection, with an emphasis on alternative care;
• SAIEVAC has gained the support of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children (SRSG-VaC), which brings its advocacy to the global level;
• In May 2012, SAIEVAC organized a Regional Consultation on the Follow up of the UN Study on Violence against Children, hosted by the Government of Sri Lanka in Colombo, with the support of SACG and in collaboration with the SRSG-VaC. The Consultation, which brought together about 170 representatives from governments, civil society, regional and international organizations and children from South Asia, was preceded by a children’s consultation and followed by the third SAIEVAC Governing Board meeting. Participants have adopted a South Asia Call for Action on Ending Violence against Children, in order to strengthen actions to end violence against all children in all settings in the Region (link to http://www.unicef.org/srilanka/activities_7690.htm).
• A regional campaign against corporal punishment in South Asia “Equal Protection for Children” was launched in Colombo in May 2012 by the eight South Asian governments and SAIEVAC, with the support of SACG. Its vision is that by 2015, corporal punishment is commonly perceived as unacceptable behaviour and its elimination supported by the engagement of governments in legal reform, policy enforcement, public education, awareness raising and monitoring with strengthened collaboration with civil society and children (link to http://www.saievac.org/cp/)
Next Steps for SAIEVAC
• Register SAIEVAC national chapters in all SAARC countries and enhance visibility of SAIEVAC and its aims at country and regional level;
• Strengthen links with national networks engaged in addressing violence against children;
• Strengthen the processes for child participation linked with the respective governments and set up a regional children’s network for child protection;
• Strengthen the capacities of the Regional SAIEVAC Secretariat and the implementation and monitoring of the SAIEVAC workplan at both country and regional level;
• Implement the SAIEVAC-SDF programme in all countries and at the regional level;
• Raise additional funds;
• Strengthen data and information collection and analysis pertaining to SAIEVAC areas of work;
• Establish a SAIEVAC centre of excellence on violence against children to share lessons and good practices and explore new opportunities for cooperation to advance the protection of children.
Role of UNICEF
• UNICEF ROSA as current Chair of the SACG (2011-2012) is a member of the SAIEVAC Governing Board;
• As SACG Chair (in 2011-2012, with Plan International as co-Chair, and in 2005) and previously as SACG member, UNICEF ROSA has been providing continuous technical and financial support to SAIEVAC, the set-up, institutional and capacity strengthening of its Regional Secretariat and its activities and in shaping the direction towards a focus on developing and strengthening national child protection systems;
• As member of SACG, UNICEF has played a key role in supporting the participation of governments;
• The aim in 2012 is to increase the active participation of other UN agencies in SACG beyond UNICEF, ILO and UNFPA.
Click here to read the report of the SAIEVAC Technical Consultation on Care Standards and Child Friendly Services, held in September 2011 in Kathmandu, with technical and financial support of the South Asia Coordinating Group on Action against Violence against Children (SACG), chaired by UNICEF ROSA ( for the biennium 2011-2012)
Click here to read the SAIEVAC workplan 2010-2015
Click here to read the Colombo Call for Action: outcome of the Follow up Regional Consultation on the UN Study on Violence against Children, organized by the SAIEVAC Secretariat last May, hosted by the Government of Sri Lanka, with the support of the SACG and in collaboration with the office of the SRSG on VAC .