Building a Comprehensive Data to Prevent Violence against Childrenby Yash Saboo July 6 2018, 2:17 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 53 secs
National leaders, especially governments, play a crucial role in the data-to-action process. To support national engagement across sectors, Together for Girls is piloting a Data-to-Policy Fellowship in Honduras, the first Latin American country to complete a Violence Against Children Survey (VACS).
What exactly is Violence Against Children Survey (VACS)? VACS generate data on prevalence and incidence of physical, sexual and emotional violence as well as risk and protective factors, consequences of violence and access to services. VACS have generated data for almost 10% of the world’s youth population (aged 13–24). VACS data catalyzes and informs national action to prevent and respond to violence. With strong data to guide the way, national governments lead the development and implementation of a comprehensive multi-sector policy and programmatic response to violence against children.
Seven countries have developed comprehensive, multi-sectoral responses till date to prevent and respond to VAC as the result of VACS surveys. The experience of every VACS country that has developed a national response is slightly different, but strengthening research capacity and institutional capacity building, especially intra-government agency coordination and external stakeholders, are two recurring issues. This is especially important and relevant within the multi-sectoral task force, the government entity responsible for developing a coordinated, multi-sector national action plan on violence prevention and response.
The Honduras Data-to Policy Fellowship was created in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with funds from the World Bank Sexual Violence Research Initiative Award. The Fellowship is part of Together for Girls’ broader effort to strengthen national capacity, promote evidence-based policies to address violence in childhood and support governments undergoing the VACS initiative.
In the Honduras pilot, the Data-to-Policy Fellow is Gustavo Bardales, the director of the Safer Municipalities Program of the Sub-Secretary of Security in Prevention, the lead ministry of the VACS initiative for Honduras. Last month, Bardales (in collaboration with the International Organization on Migration, USAID and CDC) convened a progress meeting on the VACS initiative in Honduras. More than 40 individuals attended, representing the government, civil society, multilaterals and youth.
Throughout the fellowship, Bardales will continue to engage the multi-sectoral task force through regular meetings focused on using VACS data to set priorities, design programs and improve violence prevention policy. He will also provide training and mentorship to a member of the multi-sectoral task force for one year, from October 2017 to September 2018. A solid understanding of the VACS is critical to ensuring that the data is used and integrated effectively into the country’s policy and programmatic response. The fellowship curriculum will include VACS methodology and data analysis.
Thus far, the TfG Data-to-Policy Fellowship in Honduras has enriched the VACS initiative, improved stakeholder engagement and will ensure a stronger commitment by all those involved.
The goal of the fellowship is to strengthen research capacity, coordination, and policymaking so that the multi-sectoral task force can lead to the development of a comprehensive, evidence-based national response to VAC.
Countries have measured success in this matter. Tanzania expanded multi-sector child protection teams at the district level and established a national hotline and communication campaigns. Cambodia conducted a landmark costing study, added curricula in parenting and positive discipline in schools, and reached over 10,000 vulnerable children with social protection interventions. Last but not the least, Malawai provided empowerment and self-defense training, developed by No Means No Worldwide in partnership with the Ministry of Education, to 16,080 adolescent girls and 4,980 adolescent boys in seven districts received empowerment and self-defense training.