Creating a protective environment for children and women
In Burkina Faso, as in many other West African countries, children and adolescents remain the principal victims of violence in its various forms. These include female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C); child trafficking; sexual abuse; economic exclusion; and early or forced marriage. Given the extreme vulnerability of children, UNICEF and its partners are trying to create a protective environment for them.
Burkina Faso has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Yet, in practice, the enforcement of these treaties remains patchy. The increasing economic vulnerability of the majority of the population and their limited knowledge of the various legal texts, allied with the inadequacy of the educational system, combine to hinder the enforcement of these treaties.
One huge obstacle is the fact that the majority of Burkinabe children simply do not legally exist. More than 5 million children have never been registered at birth and do not possess birth certificates, making them officially invisible. This lack of identity leaves children prone to exclusion—they are unable to sit exams at school, are denied basic services, and are not counted in national statistics.
With technical and financial partners UNICEF has set up an informal consultation framework, based on the CRC, which focuses both on creating a protective environment for Burkinabe children and on achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).Together the partners have developed new strategies to combat FGM/C, child trafficking, HIV/AIDS and juvenile delinquency. For the MDGs emphasis is particularly on girls’ education, health and access to drinking water.
UNICEF is working on all fronts: lobbying, building capacity in community-based organizations, and helping to raise social and political consciousness of the situation. In collaboration with the Burkina Faso government and civil society partners, UNICEF has recently been working on three major initiatives:
- Putting in place a toll free number for children in distress
- Establishing juvenile courts in Ouagadougou and in Bobo-Dioulasso
- Promoting free systematic and compulsory birth registration for all children
Female genital mutilations films online