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Small Change, Big Impact

CCFC’s communications manager in Paraguay, shares how her government is working to keep children safe from harm

By Rosanna Menchaca, CCFC, communications manager, Paraguay

The “butterfly effect” is a small change that can make a big impact. That’s what happened when the United Nations (UN) ratified the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2015-2030 in September and included the right for children to be protected from violence and exploitation in the new worldwide agenda.

Goal 16.2 explicitly seeks to “end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children.” The ratification of this goal came after years of collaboration with many non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including my colleagues from six countries at Christian Children’s Fund of Canada, (CCFC) a member of ChildFund Alliance, which advocated for the cause with its 11 other member organizations operating in 58 countries.

I was proud to be in New York with Paraguay government officials celebrating the ratification of the SDGs. At the time, UNICEF, the ChildFund Alliance and other NGOs affirmed their commitment to the cause through the creation of End Violence, a Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children. The Paraguayan government was grateful to be involved in the End Violence meetings. “The Secretariat of Childhood truly appreciates and thanks CCFC and ChildFund Alliance for their support, which has allowed us to be seen as a country that cares about our children,” said Ricardo Gonzalez Borgne, the vice-minister of childhood.

Gonzalez Borgne’s support is in line with a key ingredient to ending violence against children — government commitment. In fact, that element will be considered when identifying six “pathfinder” countries, which will be part of the End Violence coalition. Paraguay is an ideal fit since it has interest from government officials, an advocacy process related to child protection and is already entrenched in community work. Taking that one step further, government officials have verbally expressed interest in Paraguay becoming a pathfinder country, asking CCFC and ChildFund Alliance for support. In fact, the paperwork is underway, and since returning from New York, CCFC and the government began meeting with UNICEF and other groups. The pathfinder countries will be announced in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, CCFC’s Paraguay office staff continues to ensure children are protected from harm, working in the field with community residents and local authorities to train, advocate and provide access to education, health and other basic needs.

We’ve taken a huge step, but we still have a ways to go. The trick is to encourage a second butterfly effect as we continue to work to ensure SDG 16.2 becomes a reality in the life of children around the world, protecting them from harmful situations such as early marriage and child labour.