UNICEF’s Child Protection component aims to ensure that children, adolescents and young people (AYP) are better protected from violence, abuse and exploitation.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the protracted emergency of Cyclone Idai (2019) aggravated existing and ongoing challenges across the board, but particularly heightened domestic and gender-based violence, violence against children, mental-health and psychosocial support needs. Adolescents were – and are still –, particularly at risk.
The capacity to provide child protection services in Zimbabwe, particularly in more rural areas, is already weak and inadequate, but worsened in humanitarian situations. In recent years these have also included climate-induced shocks, i.e., successive droughts, floods and cyclones, and then other health emergencies such as cholera outbreaks.
Despite significant progress in establishing a National Case-Management System (NCMS), the child protection sector remains fragmented, with shortages in the social service workforce; minimal investment in child-sensitive justice and social welfare systems, and limited implementation of policies and legislation. Again, these gaps are exacerbated during emergencies. While Zimbabwe ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, implementation of related laws and policies remains a challenge.
Grounded in a rights framework, UNICEF’s Child Protection component aims to ensure that children, adolescents and young people (AYP) are better protected from violence, abuse and exploitation, have their births registered, and benefit from improved prevention and response systems in development and humanitarian settings.
In this area, the top priority for Zimbabwe is on developing a legislative framework around child protection, including on GBV, child marriage, access to sexual and reproductive health, civil registration, mental health, psychosocial support and access to justice. UNICEF advocates for: improving budget allocations; enhancing cross-sectoral coordination of services, including case management; strengthening victim-friendly justice and law enforcement systems and reinforcing human-rights monitoring. Partnering with disability organisations will strengthen institutional and normative frameworks on the rights of people living with disabilities.
The second key priority is strengthening social services and its workforces for the prevention of – and responses to – violence. Social welfare, justice, law enforcement and civil registration sectors urgently need good, gender-responsive protection services for children, with an enhanced lens on those with disabilities. Information management systems need to be much improved by using digital innovations and connectivity.
UNICEF enhances evidence-based interventions for different age groups, including adolescence and early childhood for health, nutrition, education, WASH and social protection.
UNICEF works to create a shift in societal attitudes around the acceptance of violence and harmful practices. The child protection section will use social mobilisation and community-based behaviour change strategies. Specifically, they will push for timely birth registrations; work on gender and social norms to build adolescent empowerment; reduce the condonement of violence and harmful practises and increase the demand for child-sensitive sexual and reproductive rights and protection services.
UNICEF strongly supports the coordination of humanitarian responses in emergencies and strengthen surveillance systems for protection-related risks.
- 1/3 women (aged 20-24yrs) married before age 18
- Child marriage rates driven by poverty and fueled by social norms
- 1/3 girls experience sexual violence before their 18th birthday
- 35% of children (5-17yrs) in child labor
- 13% of children working under hazardous conditions
- Children living in poverty are more likely to suffer from a disability
- Over 51% of children not registered at birth
Key Objectives in Brief
- Ensure children and AYP are better protected from violence, abuse and exploitation
- Push for enabling all births to be registered, and timely
- Establish more prevention and response systems in development and humanitarian settings
- Developing a comprehensive, legislative framework around child protection
- UNICEF advocates for enhancing cross-sectoral coordination of case management
- Reinforcing human-rights monitoring
- Partnering with disability organizations strengthens institutional and normative frameworks on the rights of people living with disabilities.
- Strengthening social services and its workforces for the prevention of – and responses to – violence
- An enhanced lens on people women, children and AYP living with disabilities
- Improving information management systems using digital innovation
- Keep evidence and data forefront and centre, and utilised in interventions
- Work on gender and social norms to build adolescent empowerment