Action to end violence against children cannot wait. Countries in the East Asia and Pacific region commit to increase efforts to end violence against children
New York, 06 November 2021 –
It is estimated that around 1 billion children globally experience some form of violence every year. For over a year and a half, the impact of the pandemic has been worse than initially feared. In East Asia and Pacific, 491 million children were living in countries with social welfare services disrupted. The most recent evidence has confirmed that violence against children has both increased and become less visible.
Maalla M’jid joined Government leaders and representatives from 25 countries in East Asia and the Pacific during a virtual conference hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on the implementation of INSPIRE strategies to end violence against children during COVID-19 and beyond. This regional conference brought together representatives and experts from governments in East Asia and the Pacific, as well as from regional bodies, civil society, youth networks, and academia. It aimed to provide a platform for children and young people to share their experiences, explore the impact of COVID-19 on prevention and responses to violence against children, and inspire accelerated action to end violence against children and achieve SDG Target 16.2., drawing on the framework of the INSPIRE strategies.
In the opening session, SRSG Najat Maalla M’jid stressed how the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated violence against children with its devasting impacts on the mental health of children worldwide and highlighted the urgent need to ensure that ending violence against children is an integral part of the COVID-19 recovery agenda.
“Children all over the world have waited long enough while other issues have taken priority over their safety and well-being. Action to end VAC cannot wait because the pandemic has magnified it.” Said Dr. Maalla M’jid.
With over one-quarter of the world’s children living in East Asia and the Pacific region, when COVID-19 hit this region early in the pandemic, no country was immune to the impact of the crisis. In this context, strong multi-stakeholder partnerships are required more than ever to respond to the challenges and guarantee the safety of children and to build back better from the pandemic.
“We strongly believe in the importance of building stronger partnerships beyond the health sector. Violence against children is preventable. This year’s conference is an important opportunity to accelerate our efforts.” highlighted Dr. Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific.
“Violence against children is preventable. There is ever-growing evidence on what works to effectively prevent and respond to violence against children in all settings. What is required is the political will to translate this into action for children and we welcome the commitments made by Governments and regional leaders during the conference,” said Marcoluigi Corsi, UNICEF Regional Director, East Asia and Pacific
The conference also highlighted the critical role of children to ensure that their voices are listened to, supported, and that young people are involved in decision-making processes. During the event, children and young people proposed concrete recommendations and solutions to prevent and end violence against children in the region.
“I wish that after this conference, policymakers would strengthen the system, connecting all those involved, from the social works, service providers, teachers to police officers and parents. To create a full circle that protects children from all harm.” Said Quyn Giang, one of the child delegates.
SRSG Maalla M’jid highlighted how building back better after the pandemic has to be seen as an opportunity to prevent and eliminate violence against children in all settings and to accelerate evidence-based action creating opportunities for children to exercise their own power, to be part of the decisions that affect their lives, and to be real agents of change.
“Children are not just the future. They are the present and part of the solution. With only eight years remaining to keep the promise of the 2030 Agenda to end violence against children, we need a paradigm shift. To this end, we must move away from siloed and unsustainable approaches. Our vision and action must be broad, based on a child-rights, life-cycle, and cross-sectoral approach,” said SRSG Maalla M’jid.