Protecting children and promoting their rights
Title: PRO-Child, Implementing child rights in Burkina Faso
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Burkina Faso
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Women, National Solidarity, Family and Humanitarian Action
Overall term: 2019 to 2021
Burkina Faso has a young population: over half its citizens are below the age of 18 and thus considered children under the terms of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Burkina Faso has ratified all key international agreements on child protection and child rights. Despite the positive legal framework, children are exposed to a wide range of violations of their rights.
Four out of every ten children work to support themselves or their family; this applies to over one third of girls and almost half of all boys. The work they do is regarded as harmful to their development in 96 per cent of cases and as dangerous in 87 per cent of cases. They often labour under exploitative conditions. Only one quarter of working children also have an opportunity to attend school.
The legal age for marriage is 20 years for boys and 17 for girls. However, a provision for exemption makes it possible for parents to bestow daughters as young as 15 in marriage. In 2015, 27.5 per cent of all girls aged between 15 and 19 were already married (source: Institut National de la Statistique et de la Démographie, Enquête Démographique et de Santé, demographic and health survey (EMDS, 2015).
Child marriages and a lack of sex education result in unwanted teenage pregnancies. Girls who become pregnant are generally left with no choice but to drop out of school. Almost one in three girls under the age of 18 has already given birth to a child.
Female genital mutilation was made illegal in Burkina Faso in 1996, and this practice has steadily declined since then. Data for 2015 shows that 11.3 per cent of all girls under the age of 15 had been victims of genital mutilation (Institut National de la Statistique et de la Démographie, Enquête Démographique et de Santé, demographic and health survey (EMDS, 2015)).
In selected municipalities, state and civil society actors provide better protection for children against violence, particularly gender-based violence, child trafficking and the worst forms of child labour.
The programme advises and supports the partner ministries, in particular the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry for Women, National Solidarity, Family and Humanitarian Action. In the intervention zones in the southwest and east of the country, it works directly with authorities at regional and provincial level, with organisations run by civil society, and with municipalities.
At political level, the programme supports partner ministries with the development of national strategies and the implementation of their action plans. With a view to developing networks to protect children, the programme works with the partner ministries to prepare technical documents, standards and guidelines. In addition, it is advising the partner ministries on the establishment of a system that collects and evaluates data in the area of children’s rights. In the intervention zones, the programme provides training for staff of the partner ministries and social services on issues of child rights and child protection, as well as on psychosocial counselling for children who are the victims of violence and exploitation.
At decentralised level, the programme helps to set up child protection networks and define their roles and responsibilities in two regions (southwest and east) and in six municipalities. Here, too, the actors involved are given training on children’s rights, child protection and coordination of child protection networks. The project supports municipalities with integrating measures to protect children into their municipal action plans. As the main target group, children are actively involved in the process of setting up child protection activities. For example, a member of the children’s assembly, which brings together children aged between 10 and 15 from private and public schools, is always present at the meetings of the child protection network.
In cooperation with a consulting company, the programme raises awareness of the aforementioned issues among the population. In addition, information is being provided to parents, children and community members on where they can obtain advice and support.