Child Rights


Elizabeth with school children in Northern Rwanda during a programme evaluation for Chance for Childhood’s project supporting children with disabilities in education.

Much of my work involves child rights advocacy for organisations such as UNICEF.

I feel particularly strongly about the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children, and the alternative care of children – subjects which can be related. For example, children in street situations, children in institutions or those trafficked for intercountry adoption are all vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

Over 80% of children in orphanages around the world have a living parent and most are there because their parents cannot afford to feed, clothe and educate them. In Ghana the figure is as high as 90%. In Ethiopia, the government recently attempted to trace the families of 385 children from 45 institutions. The families of all but 15 children were located.

When seen through this lens, the “orphan crisis” is largely a crisis in family support and the need for social protection systems.

Numerous rights violations and risk factors have a disproportionate effect on the girl child, which is an area also explored through my work on women’s rights.

Please see Elizabeth’s writing on child rights below. Please see other child rights articles in the sections on human traffickingmaternal and infant health, and the sexualisation of women and children.

  • 2020 Children on the Move Pilot Study: Children on the Move using the Southern Route in Eastern and Southern Africa, Summary of Findings, UNICEF.
  • 2020 HIV in emergencies: Multi-country case study on integration of HIV into the humanitarian response to Cyclone Idai in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, UNICEF.
  • 2019 Data and evidence: Evidence for Children Roundtable Report, written for UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, Campbell Collaboration and International Rescue Committee via Scriptoria Sustainable Development Communications.
  • 2019 Public finance for children: South Sudan National and Education Budget Briefs for fiscal year 2018/19
  • 2018 African Union: Developing three case studies on UNICEF’s engagement with the African Union on ending child marriage; protecting children affected by armed conflict; and support to the African Committee of Experts for the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC).
  • 2018 Education: Production of five thematic briefs for Schools for Africa: 1. early learning and pre-primary, 2. quality primary, 3. pathways to citizenship and livelihoods, 4. adolescent girls and 5. children with disabilities.
  • April 2016 Children Affected by Armed Conflict: Profile of four boys who escaped the conflict in South Sudan and are now rebuilding their lives at Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya.
  • November 2015 Violence Against Children: Zambia: A safe space for the treatment of child survivors of sexual abuse. Malama has just arrived with her baby son and 14-year-old daughter who has been defiled by a man known to the family.
  • October 2015 Children Affected by Armed Conflict: Hope for conflict-affected children in South Sudan through agriculture.
  • 1. CP research long 2 livesSeptember 2015 Child Protection Research: Editing and cartoon illustrations (right) for UNICEF Ghana national baseline study on child protection and Government of Ghana Child and Family Welfare Policy.
  • April 2015 Birth RegistrationThe first right: Birth registration in Nigeria article and video
  • February 2015 Civil Registration and Vital Statistics: Third Conference of African Ministers responsible for Civil Registration, Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire. Coordination of conference communications on behalf of UNICEF.
  • January 2015 Children with DisabilitiesProgramme evaluation and video for Chance for Childhood’s Education, Equality and Empowerment Project in Rwanda which supports children with disabilities in education.
  • October 2014 Children Affected by Armed Conflict: Don’t tell South Sudan’s children “sorry, we should have” OpEd on the South Sudan conflict.
  • 2014 Civil Registration and Vital Statistics: Communications consultant for Breaking with Broken Systems: Partnership for the Legal Identity of African and Asian Children, a European Union and UNICEF partnership providing assistance to eight countries in Africa and Asia to reform their civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems, including support to birth registration. The work included field visits to Mozambique, Nigeria and Uganda, an OpEd, photography and four videos promoting the project (watch the Nigeria video and Mozambique video).
  • UNICEF-2013-211x300September 2013 Child Protection Research: UNICEF Research for Children 2013: From Evidence to Action (right). The first systematic attempt to showcase the breadth and depth of UNICEF’s research work, this publication includes a summary of research on subjects including: Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian Children Returned to Kosovo; Children’s Vulnerability to Climate Change and Disaster Impacts in East Asia and the Pacific; and the South African Child Support Grant Evaluation and Impact Assessment.
  • May 2012 Child Trafficking: Production of media pack for The African Child Policy Forum’s 5th International Policy Conference Intercountry Adoption: Alternatives and ControversiesFact sheets included Intercountry Adoption: the African Context; Legal Frameworks; and Illicit Activities.
  • October 2010 Child AbuseMisguided child protection policies increase abuse risk. Impoverished levels of supervised access for at-risk mothers and their babies, means the rupturing of attachment and an increased likelihood of abuse.
  • September 2010 Child AbuseShe-wolves in sheeps’ clothing
    Almost half of child abusers are women. These are ordinary women not evil aberrations. Women for whom factors such as their own history as a victim of abuse, poverty and social isolation, have collided to create a parent unable to live up to the ideal of the all-nurturing, self sacrificing mother. Society has to take responsibility for creating both the idealistic image and the conditions under which women are unable to nurture their children. Meanwhile the female perpetrator is unacknowledged by society, giving her and her child victims no way out.


Liberty & Humanity

Birth registration in Nigeria: Both education and a birth certificate are inaccessible to many children in hard to reach areas, such as rural communities in the North of Nigeria. Other social indicators are poor including high levels of food insecurity and some of the highest rates of child marriage in the world.

The percentage of births registered in these areas can be as low as 3%, as in Zamfara State. An EU-UNICEF programme significantly increased birth registrations in Nigeria including through partnerships with the health sector.

Read More.