Global annual results report 2019: Goal Area 3
Progress, results achieved and lessons from 2019 by Goal Area 3: ensuring that every child is protected from violence and exploitation
Goal Area 3 aims to ensure that every girl and boy is protected from violence and exploitation in keeping with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and supports the achievement of multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular Goals 5, 8 and 16. Two years into implementation of the UNICEF Strategic Plan, 2018–2021, Goal Area 3 had progress rates of over 90 per cent for two of the three result areas. Progress was slowest in the result area on access to justice, specifically on legal aid and birth registration.
UNICEF worked in over 150 countries in 2019 in its efforts to protect children against violence and exploitation at an expense of nearly US$708 million and reached 17 per cent more children who experienced violence with health, social work or justice and law enforcement services, compared to 2018.
This report summarizes how UNICEF and its partners contributed to Goal Area 3 in 2019 and reviews the impact of these accomplishments on children and the communities where they live.
Every child is protected from violence and exploitation
The year 2019 commemorated the thirtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and celebrated the progress since that time. The last two decades saw a rise in birth registration levels globally with about 3 in 4 children under age 5 registered today compared to 6 in 10 around 2000. The prevalence of female genital mutilation has dropped by one-quarter in the last 20 years. Child marriage has declined, largely driven by progress in South Asia. Today, around 1 in 5 young women were married in childhood compared to around 1 in 4 ten years ago. Yet, despite these and other advances, without further acceleration, and hampered by armed conflicts and disasters, none of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) related to Goal Area 3 are on track to be achieved by 2030.
With the end of 2019 came the unprecedented global crisis in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic. The devastating socio-economic impacts of the pandemic will have severe and lasting consequences for children and women, including their care, protection and well-being. The United Nations Secretary-General’s 2019 call for a Decade of Action to dramatically scale up transformative action towards achievement of the SDGs is now more relevant than ever.
In 2019, UNICEF worked in over 150 countries in its efforts to protect children against violence and exploitation and reached 17 per cent more children who experienced violence with health, social work or justice and law enforcement services, compared to 2018, with a roughly even split between girls and boys.
Strengthening child protection systems to reduce violence against children
2.3 million mothers, fathers and caregivers
reached through parenting programmes in 79 countries (+10%)
2.7 million children
who have experienced violence reached by services in 115 countries (+17%)
"Violence against children (VAC) encompasses all forms of physical or mental violence, injury and abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse"
Accelerating national progress to reduce all forms of violence
In 2019, UNICEF intensified efforts to scale up evidence-based violence prevention interventions and institutionalize response services to child victims of violence in 141 countries, a 5 per cent increase from the countries reporting in 2018.
Strengthening the social service workforce
There is a moderate yet steady increase in the number of countries reporting progress to strengthen their Social Service Workforce (SSW), increasing from 114 countries reporting in 2017 to 137 countries in 2019.
UNICEF stepped up support to governments to institutionalize workforce development, including notably in Afghanistan, Argentina, Bhutan, the Comoros, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Somalia, Uzbekistan and Viet Nam.
“The workforce is now recognized as the single most important ‘element’ of any child protection system. No system can work effectively without the people that day-in and day-out work with the most vulnerable children and families and make that system come to life.”
Strengthening information management systems
UNICEF recognizes integrated Information Management Systems (IMS) as a critical component of strengthening child protection systems. UNICEF and partners manage three types of protection-related data: case management, incident monitoring and programme monitoring. These data are interrelated and essential to the success of any child protection strategy; however, they are rarely connected by data systems.
Primero is an innovative inter-agency initiative currently being used in 26 countries supporting users to manage data from more than 200 organizations. Management of the cases of almost 90,000 vulnerable children are being conducted safely and confidentially, over double the number of the number (40,000 cases) supported in March 2019.
Child protection in humanitarian action
Child protection in humanitarian action achieved breakthrough results in 2019 on many critical fronts. UNICEF provided protective services to millions of children affected by armed conflict, natural disasters and public health emergencies in 74 humanitarian situations.
As a leading voice for children, adolescents, parents and caregivers, UNICEF generated increased momentum around mental health and psychosocial well-being globally.
3.7 million children
Provided with community-based mental health and psychosocial support in 60 countries
1.75 million children on the move
Received protective services in 61 countries
3.3 million women and children
Reached with gender-based violence interventions in 46 countries
Mental health and psychosocial support
UNICEF took major steps to prioritize Mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) for children, adolescents, mothers, fathers and caregivers. UNICEF provided more than 3.7 million children and adolescents in 60 humanitarian situations with community-based MHPSS, up 3 per cent compared to 2018. The organization increasingly prioritizes strengthening humanitarian-development-peace nexus, working across all sectors, and investing in localization efforts, notably frontline workers.
Monitoring grave violations
UNICEF engages with United Nations partners to monitor and report grave violations of children’s rights in armed conflict including killing and maiming, recruitment and use, abduction and sexual violence. In 2019, over 25,000 grave violations were verified across 20 countries through the monitoring and reporting mechanism co-chaired by UNICEF. Critically, UNICEF recorded the exit or release of nearly 13,200 children (18 per cent girls) from armed forces or armed groups in 17 countries across 6 regions. At year end, 16 of 66 parties to conflict (24 percent) listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual report on CAAC had signed an action plan to prevent and end grave violations against children.
Reintegrating children associated with armed forces and armed groups
Reintegration is a long-term process intended to enable children to transition from armed forces and groups to their families and communities. Across 19 countries, UNICEF provided a range of care and services including specialized family tracing, psychosocial support, recreational activities, and economic reintegration, education and life-skills training, to more than 14,400 children who had exited armed forces or armed groups over the course of several years. More than 80 per cent of these children who received care and services were in countries located in Central, East and West African regions, including 3,400 (23 per cent girls) in South Sudan, 3,000 (21 per cent girls) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and 2,500 (17 per cent girls) in Nigeria.
Mine action and explosive weapons
Children represent more than half the civilian casualties of landmines and explosive remnants of war, a 12 per cent rise from 2016. To reverse casualty trends and strengthen victim assistance, UNICEF scaled up its mine action programming to 23 countries (from 20 in 2018), including in Afghanistan, Islamic Republic of Iran and Libya in 2019. In all, around 4.4 million children received Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) in 22 countries and almost 12,900 front-line community-level workers were trained, 24 per cent more than in 2018.
Gender-based violence in emergencies
Across 46 countries, UNICEF supported 3.3 million women, girls and boys with Gender- Based Violence in Emergencies (GBViE) response, prevention and risk mitigation activities, reaching over 150 per cent more people than in 2018.
Protection from sexual exploitation and abuse
Children and women are disproportionately at risk for sexual abuse and exploitation (SEA) in humanitarian settings. In 2019, UNICEF doubled the organization’s protection efforts to reach 32 countries across six regions, up from 16 countries in 2018.
In 2019, 8.9 million children and adults could access a UNICEF-supported SEA reporting channel, a 27 per cent increase from 2018.
Unaccompanied and separated children
In 2019, UNICEF and partners registered around 94,500 unaccompanied and separated children in humanitarian situations across 50 countries. Overall, 58 per cent of unaccompanied and separated children targeted and registered for UNICEF support were reunited with their families or received family-based care or appropriate alternative services.
Children on the move
UNICEF reached nearly 1.75 million ‘children on the move’ in 61 countries with protective services and supports national authorities to mainstream policy and programming into national child protection systems strengthening frameworks. UNICEF supported 33 countries to end the immigration detention of children in law, policy and practice.
UNICEF implements an integrated service approach to promote access to social, health care, education and other services regardless of the migration status of children or that of their parents, with progress noted in, among other countries, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Gambia, Mexico, Peru and Turkey.
Delivery of protection services to reduce harmful practices
Despite the significant decline in recent years in the prevalence of child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM), the overall numbers remain high. To eliminate harmful practices by 2030 (SDG 5.3), progress needs to be dramatically accelerated.
5.7 million adolescent girls
Received prevention and care interventions to address child marriage in 45 countries
8.5 million people
Participated in education, communication and social mobilization platforms promoting Female Genital Mutilation elimination
In 2019, UNICEF and partners supported 58 countries across all regions to implement rights-based interventions aimed at ending child marriage. While child marriage occurs among both boys and girls, the prevalence is about six times higher among girls. Partnering with boys and men in gender equality is crucial to ending child marriage.
Girls’ empowerment: Integrating life skills and improving access to services for adolescent girls
Around 5.7 million adolescent girls received prevention and care interventions from UNICEF-supported programming on child marriage across 45 countries, a notable increase from the 4.9 million adolescent girls reached in 2018.
Female Genital Mutilation
UNICEF contributed to important successes to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in 21 countries where FGM programmes are being implemented. UNICEF is working towards strengthening interventions such as building girls’ and women’s agency to claim their rights, advancing gender equality by engaging men and boys, improving community surveillance and response mechanisms following public declarations of FGM abandonment and creating opportunities for young people to champion the elimination of FGM in their countries and communities.
“I have seen with my own eyes the pain women endure. I want to tell everyone that there are no benefits to being cut. Only pain and discomfort.”
Read how a national joint programme supported by UNICEF / UNFPA is working to eradicate FGM in Eritrea by 2030.
Promoting access to justice for children
Birth registrations for children between 0 –17
Children have benefited from access to justice interventions in 65 countries
Strengthening justice systems for children contributes towards ending violence against children and harmful practices, protecting children in contact with the law, protecting the rights of children without parental care and ensuring legal identity for all, including birth registration – across development, peacebuilding and humanitarian contexts.
128 countries reported progress on implementing a range of interventions to improve children’s access to justice, reaching around 278,000 children – a marked (44 per cent) increase over previous years.
Improving birth registration
The right of a child to be registered and have a legal identity is enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. UNICEF supported 80 countries – with over half (51 per cent) located in Eastern and Southern Africa and West and Central Africa – to strengthen their civil registration and vital statistics systems (CRVS). The year 2019 saw a marked improvement in the number of children reached compared to the previous year.
Children without parental care
The year 2019 was a watershed moment for care reform globally. The landmark United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution on children without parental care provided the unprecedented opportunity to advance the care reform agenda globally, including within the disabilities community.
UNICEF supported 106 countries across all regions to drive forward their national care reform agenda to prevent separation of children from families, reduce the number of children living in institutions and promote family-based alternative care options in the community.
The year 2020 marks the seventy-forth anniversary of UNICEF; normally an occasion to celebrate all the progress in child rights to date. Instead, the year started with the worst global health crisis the world has encountered in modern history with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The devastating socio-economic impacts of the pandemic will have severe and lasting consequences for children and women, including their care, protection, and well-being. As millions of parents lose their jobs and sources of income, children are subjected to immediate and rapidly increasing levels of poverty and associated stress. Out-of-school children and children in homes that have lost income, access to food, and economic resources are at greatly increased risk of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence, or lack of stimulation or learning opportunities.
As we move forward, Goal Area 3 programming must be agile, flexible, innovative, scalable, and adaptive. UNICEF will work with government and civil society partners to bolster and adapt protection services, and programming needs to respond to specific contexts and stages of the pandemic. The capacities of national service delivery systems in countries and regions may be very different, and the impact of the crisis may increase rapidly over time. In conflict-affected and fragile settings, UNICEF must ensure that its response adopts a conflict-sensitive lens to mitigate unintended harm and maximize positive impacts.