As 2018 comes to a close, Together for Girls (TfG) reflects on five accomplishments made over the past year that advance our partnership’s collective goal to end violence against children and youth:
1. 2018 marks a record-breaking number of Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS) report launches.
Lao PDR, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia hosted high level events to raise awareness of their recently launched VACS reports. The VACS, led by CDC as part of the TfG partnership with strong support from PEPFAR, UNICEF and other partners, provide an in-depth look at the prevalence of sexual, physical and emotional violence against children and youth within the country, common perpetrators and risk factors, negative health consequences of violence and much more. In launching the VACS reports, these four countries demonstrate an ongoing commitment to country-level action to address violence and contribute to TfG’s growing body of available data for more than 10% of the world’s population under the age of 25.
2. TfG’s #SafeHeroes Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad were jointly awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for their work helping and advocating for survivors of sexual violence.
This year’s Nobel Peace prize was awarded to Dr. Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist and 2015 TfG #SafeHero who has treated thousands of victims of rape in the DRC, and Nadia Murad, an Iraqi human rights activist and 2016 #SafeHero who is a survivor of sexual violence previously held captive by Islamic State extremists. Acknowledging these leaders on a global stage serves as a rallying call to continue forward in our work. In accepting the award, Dr. Mukwege remarked, “To the survivors from all over the world, I would like to tell you that through this prize, the world is listening to you and refusing to remain indifferent. The world refuses to sit idly in the face of your suffering.”
Dr. Denis Mukwege founder of Panzi hospital in DRC, read his #SafeHero profile on p. 76 of TfG’s Safe Magazine.
Nadia Murad, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and human rights activist, read her #SafeHero profile on Safe
3. The Every Hour Matters campaign continues to expand with the launch of the Youth Engagement Toolkits.
According to VACS data, young survivors of sexual violence are most likely to disclose their experiences to friends and peers of their same age, yet rarely seek or receive services. In April 2018, as a response to this data, TfG launched the Every Hour Matters (EHM) Youth Engagement Toolkits, a set of resources to support youth-led organizations in delivering the key messages on the importance of seeking timely post-rape care specifically tailored for youth in Uganda and Kenya. These materials were developed and piloted by a group of 10 EHM Youth Champions, extraordinary young people leading organizations in the fields of violence prevention, women’s empowerment and sexual and reproductive health within these two countries. The toolkits include guides to facilitate workshops at the community level to foster dialogue around gender dynamics, power structures, and stigma surrounding sexual violence and can be easily adapted to other country settings through the EHM Toolkit Replication Guide. Additionally, the EHM campaign expanded into Zambia and Zimbabwe in 2018. To learn more about why every hour matters after rape, check out our EHM infographic.
4. The TfG partnership’s work in Latin America greatly expanded.
In 2018, the countries of Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras continue to move forward into new phases of the VACS data collection process with strong support from high-level national leaders. In September 2018, the President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández hosted a Data2Action workshop to address violence against children and in El Salvador, multiple high ranking officials from the Ministry of Justice and Public Security were present at the November 2018 Data2Action workshop.
President Hernández of Honduras shakes hands with UNICEF Country Representative, Mark Connolly at the country’s Data2Action workshop.
TfG’s Executive Director, and CEO Daniela Ligiero speaking at the Data2Action workshop in El Salvador with high level ministry officials.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as part of the TfG partnership, has also completed recent updates to the Latin American VACS survey to include new questions on weapon carrying, migration and community/gang violence. This new data from the VACS will help generate knowledge around violence as a driver of migration and the linkages between household, community or gang violence in the region. Furthermore TfG partner UN Women expanded their Spotlight Initiative to the Latin American/Caribbean region with the goal of eliminating femicide by 2030 marking an important milestone in redoubling efforts to end all forms of violence against women and girls.
5. TfG’s 2018 #SafeHeroes show us that everyone can make a difference in ending violence against children.
On a recent trip to Tanzania, TfG met with everyday heroes working across sectors to prevent violence against children and youth, including police officers, UNICEF child protection specialists, medical professionals and survivors who now serve as community mentors/PEPFAR DREAMS Ambassadors. Each hero has an inspirational story behind their work that contributes to our shared vision of ensuring that every child, adolescent and young person has the right to live a life free from violence. During the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, TfG featured nine of these everyday #SafeHeroes from Tanzania, allowing our audience to see that everyone has a role to play in making this vision a reality.
As Together for Girls prepares for what’s next, one thing is clear: There is strength in numbers and power in collective action.
The accomplishments of 2018 show us how much can be achieved by working together in partnership to address the global pandemic of violence against children and youth. In 2019, the TfG partnership will celebrate its 10th Anniversary and looks forward to many more years working collaboratively to create a safer world for all children adolescents and young people.