On ChildFund’s First Advocacy Day, a Successful Push for Child Protection

Home > Learn More > Stories & News > On ChildFund’s First Advocacy Day, a Successful Push for Child Protection
By Erin Kennedy, ChildFund Director of Advocacy
Posted on 4/19/2016
advocacy day

ChildFund staff members from all over the world visited legislative offices on Capitol Hill during our first-ever Advocacy Day.

ChildFund staff members from around the world converged on Capitol Hill on March 18 to meet with legislators to discuss issues affecting vulnerable children and advocate for their well-being. Our first-ever Advocacy Day proved a success, as we met with representatives of 23 congressional offices (both in the House of Representatives and the Senate), USAID staff members and officials from the United States government and other nongovernmental organizations.

On Capitol Hill, we focused on two issues: the Reach Every Mother and Child (REACH) Act, and the Action Plan for Children in Adversity. REACH, which was introduced in 2015 in the House and the Senate, aims to end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths globally. As proposed, it would involve an inter-agency working group led by a USAID specialist in child and maternal health, as well as a 10-year strategy with the U.S. government working with partner countries and donors.

About 1 million newborns die on their first day of life from causes that are almost entirely preventable, according to USAID’s 2014 report “Ending Preventable Maternal, Newborn, and Child Deaths Worldwide.” Also, nearly 300,000 women die annually from complications during pregnancy or childbirth, with 99 percent of maternal deaths occurring in the developing world. This lifesaving legislation would elevate the United States’ commitment on global child and maternal health.

The Action Plan for Children in Adversity is a whole-of-government response to addressing the comprehensive needs of vulnerable children around the world, particularly in building strong beginnings, putting family care first and protecting children from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. 

At USAID’s offices in Washington, D.C., our staff members had productive meetings with officials from the Displaced Children and Orphans Fund (DCOF) to discuss our program in Uganda to find homes for orphans and other children who live in institutions, as well as our work with the AfriChild Center to research violence against children.  

Although some staff members who went to Capitol Hill are experienced advocates, it was the first time for many. “I really enjoyed learning about lobbying and having the opportunity to share information about ChildFund in a government setting,” said Maggie Zraly, child protection advisor. “It was a wonderful experience and one I hope to have again.” Others said that it was particularly inspiring to put ChildFund’s advocacy agenda into practice and will help build our organization’s ability to advocate for issues involving children in other countries on global, regional and national levels.

Capping off the day, ChildFund President & CEO Anne Goddard and Susan Bissell, director of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, spoke at a reception attended by more than 100 government officials, NGO staff members and ChildFund representatives.

In her keynote speech, Bissell discussed ChildFund Alliance’s Free From Violence campaign and the importance of the inclusion of language about protecting children from violence, abuse, exploitation and trafficking in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted last fall.

“Advocacy Day allowed people to see ChildFund in a new light and positioned us as a leader on the issue of child protection,” Goddard said. Many of us are already looking forward to the next opportunity.