Intersecting issues which must be addressed to provide comprehensive protection for Girls 0 – 12
This group is sometimes not specifically considered as it is assumed that their needs are addressed with those of their parents. It is important that these are articulated and addressed, otherwise they can be overlooked. For example: If babies do not receive birth registration, they are usually not included on their mothers’ refugee registration, which means they have no protection status, and have difficulty accessing their basic needs, food and non-food items, health care and education. If the mother is stateless, her children will be stateless. Even when registered, girl children face many barriers. Crowded, unsafe accommodation significantly increases the risks of child sexual abuse. Single mothers who have been forced to marry often abusive men as a means of survival report a high degree of sexual abuse of children by step-fathers. Children old enough to be sent to collect food, water, and fuel or to forage for food suffer sexual abuse and violence. Unsafe camps and urban sites make it dangerous for a girl to travel to school and a concerning level of abuse by teachers was reported. Fear for their daughter’s safety caused many families to stop their children from going to school. Extreme poverty forces some parents to choose to educate boys and not girls. Lack of education makes girls extremely vulnerable as they grow older. WASH facilities are also dangerous places for young girls. The constant threats to their health and safety coupled with lack of access to safe education have a negative impact on many girl children, who have little or no access to either physical or mental health services leading to low self-esteem, depression, and lack of hope for the future. There are limited special services for children with a disability.
There is little childcare for children whose parents have to work and many young children are left alone to fend for themselves for much of the time, which again makes them vulnerable to SGBV. This is particularly the case for girls with a disability, who cannot access school. The needs of children are not independently considered when considering durable solutions, and arrangements made for unaccompanied children such as fostering, are often both unsuitable, dangerous and not monitored. The children of LGBTIQ communities are often excluded from services available to other children because of the marginalisation and shaming of their mothers. Older girl children are seldom consulted about programs designed to directly assist them, both because it is not culturally acceptable, and because they lack education.
Example pledge to effectively address the needs of Children 0-12
Member States and other stakeholders could include all or some of the following Language in pledges to address the need of this group.
Member States Acknowledging the multiple and intersecting needs of children aged 0 – 12, we, x State will ensure that mechanisms are in place to guarantee that babies in refugee sites can be registered at birth, at no cost and included in their mother’s registration status. All steps will be taken to ensure that babies born in refugee sites are not subject to Statelessness.
Member States and other key stakeholders Recognising the complex nature of issues affecting the wellbeing of girl children, we commit to strengthening the protection of babies and girl refugees aged 0-12 by ensuring families, including single mothers will be provided with secure accommodation and safe access to food, water and non-food items. Additionally, we will ensure access to early childhood health care, including special services for children with a disability. Recognising the trauma experienced by issues including separation from and loss of parents and other family members, grief, and the impact of sexual abuse, and domestic violence, specialist mental health care will be available to this group. Childcare will be provided for children whose parents have to work and who do not have an extended family. In order to encourage education for girls, steps will be taken to ensure that schools are secure, free from SGBV and that children can travel safely within camps and refugee sites. Education is recognised as a major protection measure. Awareness-raising campaigns and family support will be undertaken to ensure that boys are not given precedence over girls when families do not have sufficient funds to send all children to school. Child labour will be strictly controlled, and actions are taken to prevent child trafficking and exploitation. Steps will be taken to ensure that children of LGBTI refugees and other marginalised groups are not excluded from services provided to other children. Steps will be taken to provide suitable foster placements for unaccompanied minors, and monitoring will be put in place to ensure that the children are not exploited.