The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly increased child abuse and exploitation, in the Philippines specifically online. As a response, child rights advocates wanted to empower their peers by pursuing and implementing their plans to spread awareness and create change.
Through consortium partners of the Down to Zero Alliance, Terre des Hommes Netherlands had been supporting communities in creating youth networks and providing them a platform to empower each other. Despite the difficulties that the pandemic had brought to child rights organisations’ programmes such as lockdowns and restrictions, a local partner of TdH NL found ways to continue supporting youth advocates.
Through Zoom, the Children’s Legal Bureau trained youth advocates on awareness raising and advocacy from eight different cities and municipalities in Cebu province. After training these motivated young advocates, they mobilised and managed to do activities in their own communities.
In Lapu-Lapu City, they conducted a child’s rights seminar and an advocacy training against sexual exploitation of children which they themselves organised and facilitated.
While in Balamban, the advocates gave out campaign materials with the tagline of “Stop Child Abuse” in coordination with their Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office.
The youth advocates from Compostela conducted a child’s rights seminar on services and support in cases of child exploitation.
With the support of the Mayor of Cordova, child’s rights advocates from Cordova conducted a Sexual Exploitation of Children Awareness Workshop, and those from the City of Talisay distributed their advocacy materials in coordination with the local government.
The youths from Consolacion facilitated a child’s rights seminar and advocacy training against sexual exploitation of children in coordination with the Youth Development Officer and Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office of the city.
These eight youth advocacy groups in eight different communities are only the beginning of a child rights movement in the Philippines. With the right training and knowledge, youth advocates can inform their peers about the important issues that they are exposed to. Terre des Hommes Netherlands provides them an opportunity to learn about these issues and how to solve them.
Having participatory, collaborative and engaging activities can help facilitate unity among the child rights advocates from different areas. Having an enabling environment would allow for the child rights advocates to flourish as human rights defenders.