Children need actionable commitments from all stakeholders especially government. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provides hope and a promising start since there are clear indicators under goals 5 and 16. However, it is crucial not only to support, but hold accountable countries to translate these commitments into concrete actions at national and sub-national level.
Arigatou’s efforts need to be taken to the parish level since the churches are structured to reach the lowest levels of community service. Despite these highly commendable efforts there is clear need to focus on sustainable approaches that empower communities to claim their rights and promote accountability.
For example, if the faith community mobilise the community to participate in the planning and budgeting process, supporting development of locally appropriate plans and mechanisms to address poverty and violence, the church can also utilise social accountability tools to enhance the communities’ efforts in holding government and other stakeholders accountable to fulfil their commitments. A partnership with other agencies that are already involved in advocacy, social accountability and other programming would work brilliantly since there are many approaches that can and should be utilised together.
On a broader scale, the experiences from such a practice could help to contribute evidence for review and strengthen the structural, legal, policy and institutional frameworks. In the region where I work, government structures (in former communist countries), are inapplicable today. Moreover, as poverty and abuse manifest more in families and other child-care structures, empowering these structures in a sustainable manner will help a great deal in addressing the violence at all levels.
Addressing violence and poverty, taking responsibility and ensuring social accountability has double effects on improving national economic indicators and improving family well-being. For instance, evidence indicates that, while ending Violence against Children is first and foremost an ethical imperative, it is also a smart, cost-saving investment and it cannot come soon enough for my young hero Julic…
We are all responsible. It’s time for action.