A vision for long lasting change in Côte d’Ivoire

Together for Girls is promoting meaningful partnerships amongst local agencies to catalyze full scale support for children. 

By Manuela Balliet, Advisor, Together for Girls

Evidence from the first VACS

In 2018, Côte d’Ivoire, was and still is, the first French-speaking country from sub-Saharan Africa to conduct a Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS).

 

In 2020, Together for Girls supported Côte d’Ivoire to write and launch their VACS report based on their 2018 national survey results.

Côte d’Ivoire was the third country ever to incorporate HIV testing into the VACS methodology in order to learn more about the intersection of HIV and violence. To this end, it was also the first country to use community testing methods (ie. finger prick).

 

Data from the survey showed that in Côte d’Ivoire, an alarming 58% of girls and 66.5% of boys, at least, went through some type of violence during their childhood.

 

These survey results showed that girls’ sexual abuse during childhood (19.2%, 1 girl out of 5) and forced sexual intercourse were the most widespread type of sexual violence in the country.

Who conducted this VACS?

The Survey was implemented in 2018 through Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Family and Children (MFFE). It was coordinated by the National Program for the Care of Orphans and Other Children made Vulnerable by HIV/AIDS (PNOEV/MFFE), and conducted by the National Institute of Statistics (INS), with the support of UNICEF. Funding for this VACS was provided by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Key data from the Côte d'Ivoire VACS 2018

Girls under 18 who experience sexual violence are not getting the support services they need

18-24 year olds who experienced sexual violence in childhood have thoughts of suicide

Next level partnerships to drive success

As part of its full commitment to the larger strategy to end violence, Côte d’Ivoire became a Pathfinding country in 2018. Only a year after launching its VACS report, Côte d’Ivoire emerged as a model of multi-stakeholder, multi-sector engagement on VACS.

 

Meaningful, multi-sectorial partnerships are the only way to successfully end violence against children and youth. Stakeholders include Ivorian researchers, policy makers and practitioners, decision-makers, multilateral organisations, civil society organizations and children representatives. Collaboration is the key to chart a new path towards prevention and protection to help Côte d’Ivoire’s youth thrive.

 

The next critical steps for Côte d’Ivoire are two-fold:

  1.  Disseminating the 2020 Report findings
  2.  Culminating in the development of Côte d’Ivoire’s official national action plan (programmatic principles guided by a national child policy).

Data sharing and dissemination for impact

Reaching children and young people

In order to successfully reach each audience, the PN-OEV (National Orphan Care Programme and other Children Made Vulnerable by HIV/AIDS) has developed a comprehensive strategic plan, matching each activity to a specific target audience. 

 

To reach children, they worked with the Youth Parliament of Côte d’Ivoire to convert the result of the VACS into child-friendly formats, such as cartoons and songs. Politicians, such as the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Family and Children will appear on tv shows to talk about the VACS findings.

What is the INSPIRE Framework?

The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children’s Pathfinding countries use the INSPIRE Seven Strategies for Ending Violence Against Children to understand the drivers of violence and build integrated responses. These strategies include but are not limited to the creation of a country’s national action plan to end violence against children.

 

Inspire Framework 232x300 - A vision for long lasting change in Côte d’Ivoire

Reaching researchers

In collaboration with UNICEF, academics,universities and the National Institute of Public Health are targeted with a technical panel to discuss VACS data utilization in research and beyond. Together for Girls is strongly supporting this with dissemination partnerships through high profile researchers and five universities in Côte d’Ivoire.

 

The first VACS dissemination event for researchers was conducted at the National Institute of Public Health. This key moment focused on sexual violence and mental health and was attended by UNICEF, PNOEV, the director of Child Protection, the director of the National Institute of Public Health, and the Cabinet director of the Ministry of Women, Family and Children.

 

The dissemination in other institutions will shape future research on ending violence against children and will also contribute to fostering the link between researchers, policy makers and donors. Panel topics range from violence and mental health, to sexual harassment and violence in education. 

 

More details about these dissemination events:

National Institute of Public Health

Website 2 University of Daloa

Universite de Bouake 

South to south learning: the ultimate partnerships

The African Partnership to End Violence Against Children (APEVAC), through facilitating knowledge sharing at the regional level, invited the National Coordinator of Orphans and Vulnerable Children and the National Implementation Unit of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development from Uganda, to share their experience with developing a national action plan in response to the VACS.

 

“Drawing Lessons from Uganda” was an incredibly successful milestone and a unique African learning experience within the Uganda process, from East to West Africa, across language barriers, in a successful interactive and dynamic session online as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

 

Together for Girls collaborated with APEVAC to lead this south to south learning. Uganda’s heavy contribution was two-fold: initially during the NAP workshop and secondly during a 4-day INSPIRE workshop.  Inter-ministerial committee members and selected national trainers successfully learned the INSPIRE strategies pillar of the NAP.

 

Speaking to the strength of Côte d’Ivoire’s meaningful, multisectorial partnerships, the director of Cabinet of the Minister of Women, Families and Children, DJIKE Raymond Claude, remarked that “the combined efforts will greatly reduce the volatility of separate interventions.”

Visioning the future: Côte d’Ivoire’s National Action Plan

An inter-ministerial technical committee was assigned under ministerial decree to ensure sustainable success (ie. to trace in future VACS whether this national action plan was actually feeding into national child protection policies and strategies). . Forty multi-sectorial participants from different fields of interventions collaborated on the theory of change, basing insights on the Together for Girls VACS data sheets and undergoing extensive training on the INSPIRE strategies. 

 

In 2022, Côte d’Ivoire aims to deliver a strong National Action Plan to serve as a National Policy for Child Protection. This policy will leverage key data on physical, emotional and sexual violence and its relationship to children’s lifelong health, in order to implement preventative policies.