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 to promoting girls' empowerment through the Girls LEAD (Leadership, Engagement, Agency, and Development) Act, we work together with governments, the private sector and civil society to amplify young people’s voices, demand better laws and policies to protect and support young people, and partner with kids and youth to build stronger communities at the local, national and global levels.
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.
“I want to advocate on behalf of children everywhere. I feel like people everywhere should have the same basic rights. But for whatever reason, people don’t seem to see that. I think we can make them see that.” –Joseph, 17, was one of several ChildFund youth ambassadors from Jackson, Mississippi that advocated to lawmakers on Capitol Hill during ChildFund’s Advocacy Summit in 2017.
Youth in their early 20s participate in a ChildFund youth club in Ziguinchor, Senegal, a weekly meeting where young people raise awareness about problems in their communities, learn leadership skills, make friends and discuss opportunities to increase civic engagement and educational support.
ChildFund youth club members in Keonjhar District, India, perform a street play to educate their community about the dangers of child marriage.
Girls attend a school meeting on children’s rights as part of ChildFund’s Jukumu Letu child protection project in Tharaka-Nithi County, Kenya.
ChildFund staff and youth participate in a run against child labor in Bukidnon Province, Philippines.
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 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.
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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 agenerationatstake.org.
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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.
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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.
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 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.
Rachel leads ChildFund’s U.S. government advocacy work on holistic U.S. government foreign policy approaches for children and youth. In addition to her decade of experience working with and for young people, she co-chairs the Big Ideas for Women and Girls Coalition and the InterAction Children and Youth Working Group. She earned her bachelor's degree in Sociology and Spanish from the University of Colorado and her master's degree in International Development from George Washington University.