"Leading, for me, is already natural because people have invested in my skills so that I could recognize my rights, my strength and understand that I can represent other girls!"
- Karen, age 15, Brazil




Children's rights are human rights.

Around the world, every young person has the right to raise their voice on issues that matter to them. That’s why ChildFund is committed to protecting and advancing children’s and youth’s rights through advocacy--from pushing for holistic, common-sense solutions to foreign assistance and working to make the internet safer for children, to promoting girls' empowerment., civil society and young people themselves to amplify children and youth’s voices, demand better laws and policies to protect and support them, and build stronger communities at the local, national and global levels.


Why advocate for – and with – young people?

We’ve learned from experience that it’s not enough to support individual children, youth and families. For more children to grow up healthy, educated and safe, we must advocate for systemic change, enacting and implementing laws and regulations that put children and youth first.

Here’s how ChildFund is investing in building up our advocacy capacity both in the U.S. and in the countries where we work around the world.

  • Country-level advocacy. Our U.S. and country offices identified their advocacy issues and developed contextualized advocacy plans, which include children’s and youth clubs that educate young people about their rights and offer them a platform to raise their voices. Our country offices have developed their own alliances and coalitions to push for an end to corporal punishment in schools, child marriage, online sexual exploitation and many other child protection issues.

  • Advocacy to end violence against children. In the U.S. in 2017, we co-created the Ending Violence Against Children Taskforce, a group of international development organizations, to advocate the U.S. government to prioritize ending violence against children. As a direct result of our efforts, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Ending Violence Against Children Resolution in 2020, demonstrating Congress’ acknowledgment of the importance of preventing, addressing and ending violence against children globally and started our push to prioritize online violence against children (see Ending Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse section below).

  • Advocacy summits. Our advocacy summits on Capitol Hill have connected ChildFund global staff and ChildFund-supported youth with U.S. policymakers on key pieces of legislation focused on uplifting children’s and youth’s voices and ending violence against children globally.

Advocacy in Action

Advocacy Priorities


As more and more children gain access to the internet and spend more time online, particularly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports of online sexual abuse and exploitation are skyrocketing.

Online sexual exploitation and abuse of children (OSEAC) – or the production and online publication of visuals depicting the sexual abuse and exploitation of children – is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world. ChildFund, through efforts like the #TakeItDown campaign, and the Ending OSEAC Coalition, a coalition of like-minded organizations, are working hard to bring the U.S. government, Big Tech and others together to stop this rising threat to children.

Reports & Publications



ChildFund’s vision is for all young people to have the chance to reach their fullest potential. Amidst a confluence of global challenges, such as COVID-19, climate change, and conflicts, ChildFund is leading NGOs to call for the U.S. government to prioritize children and youth in foreign assistance and better coordinate across issue areas and agencies. There is a generation at stake – and we need a common-sense approach to U.S. foreign assistance funding, policies and programs that recognizes the critical and interconnected needs of young people, no matter where they live.

Learn more about how ChildFund – together with our coalition of partners – envisions a holistic, whole-of-government approach to supporting children and youth at

Reports & Publications:



Gendered social norms can manifest in ways that impact which games children and youth play, who their friends are, where they are able to go and what they are able to do. These norms can also create barriers to accessing education, limiting or discounting of their agency and voices, and in the form of gender-based violence. Harmful gender norms prevent equal access to health care, education and employment. Children of all genders deserve equal access to opportunities and to achieve their dreams.

When we advocate for policies that support children regardless of their gender, entire communities benefit. ChildFund is currently advocating for the passage of the Girls Leadership, Engagement, Advocacy and Development (LEAD) Act, which would promote girls’ civic and political participation and leadership. The bill would support programs to build girls’ skills and confidence and improve their access to leadership opportunities, so they can meaningfully participate in decision-making that affects their lives and their communities.

Reports & Publications:



Together with other civil society partners, we are working to raise awareness and increase U.S. commitment to global efforts that improve the survival and health of mothers and children under age 5 in low-resource countries. Research has shown the importance of investments in early childhood development and the realization of strong development outcomes later in life. We are also members of the Thrive Coalition, which is a group of organizations and individuals dedicated to improving all aspects of early childhood development around the world, including child protection, education, health, positive parenting and more. This includes pushing for the implementation of the Global Child Thrive Act, which directs the U.S. government to integrate early childhood development programming for vulnerable children and family members throughout foreign assistance programs.


Meet the Advocacy Team


Erin Kennedy, VP, External Affairs and Partnerships

Erin Kennedy is a leading policy, children’s rights and gender expert with almost 20 years of experience in the field. Ms. Kennedy is responsible for setting strategic direction for the organization’s business development, U.S. advocacy and external engagement portfolio. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Duquesne University and a master’s in Public Administration from American University. 


Danielle Lilly, Director, Policy

Danielle leads ChildFund’s U.S. government and global advocacy efforts related to online sexual exploitation and abuse of children (OSEAC), violence against children, early childhood development and adolescent girls. She is also leading a new initiative to build greater consensus, collaboration and coordination between US-based NGOs and INGOs on OSEAC-related advocacy efforts. Danielle holds a bachelor's degree in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia and a master's degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science.


Advocacy Spotlight: Ending Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children