Child protection

Empowering adolescent girls, ending child marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), improving birth registration, protecting children on the move and children in emergencies.


For every child, safety

Protecting children’s rights is crucial to their survival, health and well-being, yet millions of children remain at risk of violence, exploitation and abuse and harmful practices.

More than 48 percent of Ethiopia’s population of over 94.3 million are children aged 18 and below. According to the 2016 Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS), almost 25 per cent of girls and women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence since age 15, and 10 per cent reported having experienced sexual violence. Help-seeking behaviour is low: only 25 per cent of girls and women who had experienced any type of physical or sexual violence had sought help while 66 per cent have neither sought help nor told anyone about the violence. The extent to which boys experience violence is unknown as the 2016 EDHS did not collect data on violence against boys or men.

Ethiopia has one of the lowest birth registration rates in the world. Three percent of children under five have their births registered with civil authorities, with significant urban, rural and regional variations.

Ethiopia is also host to a sizeable population of internally displaced persons and about 900,000 refugees, among whom 60 per cent were children. It is also a place of origin, transit, and destination for children on the move.

Child protection in numbers

  • 3 per cent of children under 5 years have their births registered
  • Median age of women at first marriage is 17.1
  • 65 percent of women aged 15-49 years have undergone FGM/C
  • 23 percent of women aged 15-49 years have experienced physical violence


UNICEF Ethiopia/2017/Marta Tadesse

UNICEF’s child protection programme focuses on enhancing the policy environment and strengthening systems in the following areas:

  • Children’s protection from and response to violence, exploitation and abuse through strengthened child protection systems that deliver integrated multisectoral services
  • Violence against children, prevention and mitigation
  • Child-friendly social welfare system
  • Child-friendly justice system
  • Child protection in emergencies
  • Adolescents’ empowerment and protection from HIV/AIDS
  • Birth registration services as part of a civil registration and vital events system.

In line with the Government’s commitment to end child marriage and FGM/C by 2025, UNICEF helps the Government to empower girls through life skills, legal literacy, and information, changing community and family norms, improving service delivery, and generating evidence through analysis and research.