The vision of UNICEF Zimbabwe is that by 2020 all children in the country will live in a safe and secure environment that is conducive to child growth development.
Almost a quarter of girls aged 15-19 years worldwide (almost 70 million) report being victims of some form of physical violence since age 15;
While around 120 million girls under the age of 20 (about 1 in 10) have been subjected to forced sexual intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point in their lives.
- While restoring and strengthening child protection systems has been hugely positive for Zimbabwe, the range and reach of services remain inadequate. This is due to various reasons, including:
- insufficient funding
- low staff capacity
- weak referral pathways and tracking
- concentration of efforts in urban areas, and
limited knowledge of, and confidence in existing systems
UNICEF’s child protection programme supports the National Action Plan for Children’s vision that by 2020, all children should live in a safer and more conducive environment that ensures their care and protection and supports sound growth and development. UNICEF works to achieve this goal through supporting household economic security, expanding access to quality social services, and strengthening child protection and safeguards.
Child Protection system
UNICEF Zimbabwe continues to strengthen child protection by supporting the National Case Management System (NCMS).
A national case management system for child protection aims to chronicle a journey of dynamic programming in child protection in Zimbabwe.
According to their 2016 annual report NCMS assisted 23,944 girls and boys with legal cases in 2016.
Support was also provided to the victim-friendly system to implement the multi-sectoral protocol that complements the NCMS. A total of 1,729 children benefited from justice services provided through the victim-friendly court system established in Zimbabwe 24 years ago. UNICEF provided furniture for 44 courts to create a friendlier environment for child victims.
This multi-sectoral victim-friendly system includes police units that are manned by officers with the specific responsibility of providing child-sensitive responses to children affected by sexual and physical abuse.
Also included are health services that provide children who have experienced abuse, with psychosocial support and health care to address immediate medical needs and future health risks associated with abuse
Protecting children from violence
Violence against children, especially towards girls, has always been major concern. Two years ago, UNICEF Zimbabwe conducted a study on the drivers of violence against children and subsequently created a social norms strategy for violence prevention.
Both the study and strategy focused on violence affecting adolescent girls such as child marriage, adolescent intimate-partner-violence, forced sexual initiationand unwanted pregnancy. The strategy itself makes a strong case for much needed inter-sectoral work (especially health, HIV and education) to address violence against adolescent girls.
Since 2016, UNICEF has been focused on strengthening the child protection system, by promoting:
- civil registration and justice for children
- prevention and response to violence, abuse and exploitation of children and women, and
support for social protection measures
- UNICEF has been instrumental in supporting the government and civil society in ending child marriage. In January 2016, the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe outlawed marriage below the age of 18 resulting in increased commitment from the government to take action towards ending child marriage.
- With support from UNICEF, UN Women and UNFPA, the Zimbabwe government developed and adopted the National Action Plan and the Communication Plan to End Child Marriages .
- UNICEF has explored ways to revitalize family clubs and other similar family-focused interventions such as parenting orientation programmes.
- A national assessment of family clubs commissioned in 2016 has contributed to the development of training modules for community care workers.
In a bid to improve social protection for the vulnerable, the Government adopted