21 July 2015

Invest in child protection and support for families, global conference told

SOS Children’s Villages represents child-focused groups at the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa

Panel of development experts debate investing in children. Photographer: ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Ayene

At a global conference in Ethiopia last week, international leaders tackled the question of how to finance development policies and programmes, including support for the world’s most vulnerable children.

SOS Children’s Villages, in partnership with UNICEF and other child-focused organisations, was an active contributor to the conference, organising several side events that highlighted the importance of investing in children.

Mr Dereje Wordofa speaking at the side event on investing in children. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Ayene

One such side event, entitled “Financing for Equity and Making an Investment Case for Children”, featured the participation of Mr Dereje Wordofa, SOS Children’s Villages International Director for East and Southern Africa, who was speaking as a representative of other child-focused organisations.
 
The side event in Addis Ababa was a significant forum alongside the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, which, amongst other objectives, aimed to support the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda.
 
The Investment Case for Children
 
UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Yoka Brandt opened the event, saying that “millions of children were left behind” by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). She said that the MDG results were reported in national averages which hid inequalities suffered by some segments of society. She urged that “the most vulnerable and the most disadvantaged children have to be at the heart of the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals, which will guide the development agenda for the next 15 years].”


Ms Yoka Brandt of UNICEF
©UNICEF
Dereje Wordofa, speaking on the behalf of child-focused organisations, said that “caring and protecting children is a legal obligation of the governments and they are the ultimate duty-bearers in fulfilling children’s rights.”

Mr Wordofa suggested three key means through which every child could be granted fair start in life.
 
First, he called governments to provide “multi-dimensional support for children,” taking into consideration that “each child needs to be seen individually in the contexts of community and family.” This requires investing in training for social workers and general investment in family strengthening programmes.
 
Second, Mr Wordofa said that support for vulnerable children must begin in early childhood and extend into youth and early adulthood.
 
Third, Mr Wordofa called on governments to fund child protection: “There are 65 million children living today who have experienced armed conflict, and more than 1 million children on the move. The abuse increases in this context.”
 
Child focused organisations react to the conference’s outcome document
 
A statement issued by the child focused organisations said that “the Addis Ababa Action Agenda is a milestone agreement for children and represents a step forward toward the recognition of the vital importance of promoting and protecting the rights of all children, and ensuring that no child is left behind.”

The communique concluded: “The real success of this historic agreement of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development will be measured by what is taken forward and how it mobilizes domestic public resources, domestic and international private business and finance and international development cooperation to create sustainable and positive change for the most vulnerable and marginalized, particularly children, young people and women.”