Day of the African Child: “We must ensure the rights of Burkinabe children are respected”

By Wendyam Micheline Kaboré, Executive Director of IPBF

Burkina Faso is a French-speaking West African country with a population of over 20 million: 51.7% are women and 48.3% men. The population is predominantly young with 45.3% under 15 years old, 64.2% under 24 years old and 77.9% under 35 years old.

On the occasion of International Day of the African Child, IPBF wishes to take this opportunity to make a strong appeal to international human rights movements, development actors, and Burkinabe leaders.

Combined with the health and food crises, the impact of the ongoing security crisis in Burkina Faso since 2015 has forced millions of people, women, girls and children in particular, to flee their homes. These internally displaced persons (IDPs) find themselves in critical situations at the reception sites, faced with a number of overriding difficulties. Despite the basic needs of survival, the most vulnerable groups, notably women and children – especially girls – are faced with yet more challenges: school dropout, forced marriage, domestic violence, etc.

Apart from the security issue, the main areas of concern are health and education. We are observing, helpless, an upsurge in child labour: girls, as well as boys are being exploited at the sites of artisanal mines. In spite of the diseases they contract, these children are exposed to violence in all its forms. And most of the girls not working at the artisanal mining sites end up in the city looking for work. These minors end up entrusted to families or commercial drinking establishments where they are exposed to sex, drugs and physical violence from an early age.

In addition to child labour, these girls suffer other ills that were previously reduced by their presence in the school system, namely excision, early marriage and, in particular, gender-based and sexual violence. Rape, death from abuse, and lifelong stigma are the daily fate of thousands of children. Statistics collected by the National Council for Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation (CONASUR) give a total of 1,481,701 IDPs as of 31 October 2021, of which 906,963 are children and 333,244 are women.

All children have the right to education, to health and to a fulfilling life, and respect for the rights of the child is the responsibility of every society and every people. In this regard, Burkina Faso ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child on 23 July 1990. It should further be noted that Burkina Faso’s constitution recognizes the right to health and child protection.

We are therefore calling on the financial and technical partners, development actors and, especially, our leaders to be more committed and to take action to ensure adequate protection of Burkina Faso’s children. We have ratified legislative texts and now we must ensure that the rights of Burkinabe children are respected.

For more information on Burkina Faso and children’s rights, see:

Protecting Girls’ Right to Education: Data-Driven Advocacy in Burkina Faso

Leveraging Data to Strengthen Girls’ Education in Emergencies

Eliminating SRGBV: FAWE’s model to protect the African Child

by Julie Khamati, Programme Assistant, FAWE.

While Sub-Saharan African governments acknowledge the value of education attainment for all as a driver of economic and national development, school related gender-based violence (SRGBV) continues to be a continental barrier to access and participation of learners in school (African Union 2020).

Despite being recognized as places of personal development, learning and empowerment, schools often perpetuate some forms of violence and discrimination particularly with a bias against girls.  According to UN Women (2016), 246 million children are subject to various forms of gender-based violence in and around the school every year. This is exacerbated in conflict and post conflict situations and for minorities and vulnerable learners. Some of the common forms of SRGBV include bullying, corporal punishment, and sexual harassment (UN Women, 2016). Worldwide, at least one in ten girls between the ages of 13 and 15 is likely to experience sexual violence and boys within the school are likely to experience severe corporal punishment (UNESCO, 2017). Millions of learners live in fear of physical abuse disguised as discipline. In addition, millions of learners face significant barriers reaching school everyday both in rural and urban areas and this affects their overall class attendance. For example, in some countries ‘boda-boda’ riders tend to prey on school going girls and engage in transactional sex for basic needs such as sanitary products and meals (Education News, 2022).  

Efforts have been made globally to address SRGBV with schools acting as violence prevention centers (UN Women, 2016). The African Union, through its Continental Education Strategy for Africa 2016- 2025 (CESA 2016 -2025) under pillar 3, champions for the need to eliminate any forms of violence within the school and training setups. Further, the Gender Equality Strategy for the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (GES4CESA) developed by FAWE on behalf of African Union exemplifies the commitments to curbing SRGBV in learning institutions.

Understanding contextual differences in African countries is key to preventing and addressing SRGBV in education institutions. Recently, FAWE developed a mirrored approach manual in response to a global call to prevent, respond and adopt mechanisms to stop SRGBV. The manual draws strongly from best practices documented under FAWE models including the Gender Responsive Pedagogy and Tuseme “Let’s Speak Out[1].”  Given FAWE’s understanding of the African context, the manual recommends solutions and preventive measures relevant to the context. The FAWE mirrored approach SRGBV manual is two-fold and as such, targets both school administrators and learners, and aims to strengthen their capacity to identify, prevent and respond to SRGBV. Lastly, it also offers monitoring and evaluation tools that are instrumental in tracking the effectiveness of measures put in place in schools to prevent SRGBV.

Addressing SRGBV calls for concerted efforts from different partners and FAWE continues to spearhead interventions that aim to eliminate all forms of violence in schools and promote access, enrolment, and performance of learners in school.

[1] Tuseme (‘Let Us Speak Out’in Kiswahili) enables female youth empowerment and gender awareness by enhancing girls’ self-esteem, leadership, social and life skills, and promotes a positive attitude amongst boys towards girls’ education.

“We have demonstrated the need to have statistical data on violence against women” Danessa Luna, Executive Director of ASOGEN

By Danessa Luna, Executive Director of ASOGEN

The Asociación Generando Equidad, Liderazgo y Oportunidades (ASOGEN) is an association of women in Guatemala recognised for generating and facilitating spaces for citizen participation, leadership, political analysis, defence and empowerment of women’s human rights with cultural relevance, generational, and gender equity.

One of ASOGEN’s main lines of work is the prevention of and attention to violence against women, from a human rights and feminist perspective. Guatemala is one of the worst countries for women globally. According to the EM2030 SDG Gender Index, Guatemala shows very poor performance on two indicators related to women’s physical safety:

• The percentage of women over 15 years of age who reported not feeling safe walking alone at night in the city or area where they live, with a score of 44/100;
• The number of women killed as victims of intentional homicide (per 100,000 inhabitants), with 19/100 — making it one of the worst rated countries in Latin America.

Faced with this problem of gender inequality, ASOGEN offers comprehensive accompaniment to women and girl survivors of violence, which is a fundamental part of our strategy of empowering women as a sustainable measure to eradicate violence. Advocacy is one of the approaches we work on most within the organization to influence not only the community, but also national-level decision makers in order to achieve changes to public policy and, consequently, in women’s lives.

The women who have participated in ASOGEN’s programme have managed to break the cycle of violence they had experienced for years within the home; some have managed to gain access to justice and combat impunity while others have managed to empower themselves in their rights as women, being multipliers of their learning.

At ASOGEN, we have had significant achievements in recent years making use of data for advocacy. For example, ASOGEN is the main driving force behind the opening of specialised bodies such as the Court and Tribunal against Femicide in Chimaltenango, where we have demonstrated the need to use statistical data on violence against women, children, and adolescents in the region of Chimaltenango.

Another achievement was the opening of a temporary shelter for women survivors of violence in the Chimaltenango area. With the use of statistical data, we were able to obtain public funds and we also received a donation of a piece of land for the construction of the shelter building.

The partnership between ASOGEN and EM2030 will strengthen ASOGEN’s work on three main levels:

  • Within the team: to increase its knowledge and improve the local and national advocacy work that is already being carried out;
  • At the local level: alliances with leaders who work for gender equality will be strengthened in order to continue to have a greater impact on the use of data in each strategy;
  • At the national level: ASOGEN aims to be recognised nationally for its ability to use evidence and gender data to obtain more results in the advocacy work that allows the promotion and approval of legal frameworks and public policies in favour of women in Guatemala.

This alliance will also strengthen our skills to effectively communicate data so that more audiences join the fight against gender violence, the call for justice at the heart of ASOGEN’s work.