On September 3, 2020, the Government of Côte d’Ivoire launched their Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS) report during an in-person launch event with livestream participation. The VACS, led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of the Together for Girls partnership, are nationally representative household surveys of males and females ages 13 to 24 on physical, emotional, and sexual violence in childhood, that capture data including prevalence, consequences, and risk factors.
Data from the VACS shows that around the world, girls and boys experience sexual violence at staggering rates. The Government of Côte d’Ivoire recognized that the lack of detailed data on violence against children and youth in the country was a major challenge in developing a comprehensive national action plan to combat the problem. In 2018, the Ministry of Women, Family and Children via the National Program for the Care of Orphans and Other Children made Vulnerable by HIV/AIDS (PN-OEV) coordinated the Côte d’Ivoire VACS, implemented by the National Institute of Statistics (INS) from June to September 2018. The results from the VACS, available in the report, provide evidence to inform violence prevention and response policies and programs.
“This survey will allow us to make decisions and act on scientific data for the good of our children and adolescents, who are the adults of tomorrow,” said Dr. Solange Améthier, Director of PN-OEV, at the Côte d’Ivoire VACS report launch event.
The launch event included an artistic interlude, during which a group of children put on a theatrical play denouncing violence against children and launched an appeal to respect their rights: “Dear parents, listen very well. We want you to keep your promises now and we want our rights to be protected from violence today! No to child abuse!”
Dr. Etienne Krug, Director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention (NVI), shared his remarks as well, emphasizing the importance of data for driving effective change and highlighting the INSPIRE Package, which provides seven evidence-based strategies to prevent violence against children:
“Lots of interventions are necessary to tackle violence, but fortunately, we have the INSPIRE package… I believe that for Côte d’Ivoire, the implementation of these seven strategies is a logical next step in the implementation of this report.”
Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children noted that the follow up to this study is crucial:
“The mobilization and synergy initiated during the development of this report should be maintained and reinforced during the planning and implementation phases. This political engagement and social mobilization under the leadership of the country at the highest level will make it possible, with the support of partners, to quickly and effectively put in place actions that will protect children, and in particular the most vulnerable, against all forms of violence.”
Professor Ramata Ly-Bakayoko, Minister of Women, Families, and Children, concluded the report launch event by underlining the commitment of the Ministry to ensure the response plan is conducted with rigor:
“It is through a synergy of action that we can sustainably build a world where the promotion and respect of children’s rights is a reality.”