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Daniela Ligiero in FP Analytics study, "UNGA78: We're behind on SDG16.2"

7th September 2023

A new study finds that current funding levels to prevent child sexual abuse – in low- middle- and high-income countries – are far too low, and what money is spent is far too hard to track.

A first of its kind study has found that governments across the world are spending far too little on preventing child sex abuse (CSA) and resources that are being allocated are far too hard to track clearly.

FP Analytics – the independent research and advisory division of Foreign Policy – launched the Safeguarding Childhood research project. The study, conducted with the support of World Vision, the Oak Foundation, and the Brave Movement, provides crucial insights into the level of funding governments are currently dedicating to combat CSA across low- middle- and high-income countries.

Individual case studies within the report identify the levels and types of national funding allocated to prevent and respond to sexual abuse against children across 20 low-, middle-, and high- income countries across Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific.

These case studies feature an analysis of each country’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for improvement in national policies and legislation aimed at preventing and responding to CSA.

The report finds that while national plans, strategies and other policy documents aimed at tackling CSA are becoming more common, they often fail to actually specify their budgetary needs and commitments to meet their stated objectives. This lack of transparency then prevents independent monitoring and evaluation of their performance. The Safeguarding Childhood study finds:

  • Only seven of the twenty countries analysed include budgetary information in their national strategic policy. Only one – Australia – provided detailed annual figures on the funding levels dedicated to preventing and responding to CSA.
  • Efforts to respond to CSA – including enforcement, prosecution and services for survivors – receive most of the resources across the 20 case studies, while prevention efforts remain largely underfunded and scarcely reported on.
  • The study also found that sociopolitical or fiscal upheaval driven by crises like COVID-19 puts funding for CSA response and prevention at risk, as spending priorities for governments are adapted to emerging needs.

As a member of the Safeguarding Childhood project’s advisory group, Together for Girls’ CEO and President Dr Daniela Ligiero contributed to the study and took part in the launch event today. Echoing the findings, Dr Ligiero said:

“We actually should be reframing this issue as, ‘How can policymakers and decision makers save billions investing in this?’”. If countries take steps to prevent CSA, the returns on investment would be evident in improvements at the economic, judicial, labour and other sectors.”

Janet Aguti, Brave Movement SAGE member and founder of Totya Platform also took part in the launch event. She emphasised:

"Survivors and support facilities must actually receive these allocated resources to maximise their intended impact. It’s not just about the funding and budget transparency."

Safeguarding Childhood brings to light the crucial role that governments can play in ending VAC worldwide by adequately and transparently funding policies and programmes that strengthen CSA response and prevention efforts.

* The Brave Movement is hosted by Together for Girls. It is a survivor-led movement campaigning to end childhood sexual violence.

** SAGE (Survivor Advocates Globally Empowered) is a group of 14 adult survivors of childhood sexual violence that help guide the vision and strategy of the Brave movement.

About Together for Girls
Ending violence against children cannot be solved by a single actor or sector alone. Together for Girls is a global partnership working to end sexual violence against children and adolescents. Active in over 20 countries, Together for Girls unites actors that often do not work together, including national governments, United Nations entities, the private sector, civil society, and survivors. Through data and advocacy, Together for Girls drives action to break cycles of violence and ensure prevention, healing, and justice.

About FP Analytics

FP Analytics is Foreign Policy’s research and advisory division. It delivers in-depth research, scenario planning, and actionable intelligence on evolving policy, markets, and technology trends to help position public and private-sector clients at the forefront of policy-shaping discussions.

With expertise in critical sectors like energy, climate, trade, and global finance, FP Analytics combines quantitative and qualitative analysis to inform clients’ strategic planning and investment decisions and support them to more effectively engage with stakeholders and demonstrate thought leadership.