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New series of research methods briefs to strengthen evidence on adolescence

(10 April 2017) The world is home to 1.2 billion adolescents: the largest cohort of this age-group in history. Adolescence is a critical period of cognitive, emotional, physical and sexual development with consequences that stretch far into adulthood. The period also provides a second “window of opportunity” to build on early investments, promote positive behaviours, and offer a second chance to those who fared less well in early childhood.90 per cent of adolescents live in low- and middle-income countries. Despite an increasing focus on their well-being, comprehensive data collection systems and research for effective interventions are lacking. This is particularly true for younger and disadvantaged adolescents.Working with Columbia University and experts from the Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Well-being UNICEF Innocenti has released a series of briefs providing a much needed review of contemporary research methodologies for adolescent well-being in low- and middle-income countries, covering: indicators and data sources, ethics, research with disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, participatory research, measurement of the social and structural determinants of adolescent health, and adolescent economic strengthening interventions. Improving the methodological quality of research in adolescent well-being - This brief introduces the methodological series, outlining key research themes, intervention types, and their associated methodological implications. It makes the case that new understandings from neuroscience have important implications for programming.Data and indicators to measure adolescent health, social development and well-being - This brief covers the principles of good indicator definition; common use of indicators; examples of indicators for adolescent health and social development; existing global data to describe - and populate indicators of - adolescent health and social development; and how to improve data collection efforts.Inclusion with protection: Obtaining informed consent when conducting research with adolescents - The brief emphasizes the value of research with adolescents and discusses at length the importance of balancing inclusion and protection, concluding with a set of ethical ground rules and recommendations for research with adolescents and examples on how to apply them.Research with disadvantaged, vulnerable and/or marginalized adolescents - This brief summarizes the health and well-being inequities experienced by DVMAs and the need for research with this group. It reviews the challenges and barriers to their inclusion in research; shares practical implications and best practices for their inclusion in research; and addresses ethical challenges and approaches to research.Adolescent participation in research: Innovation, rationale and next steps - This research - led by adolescents themselves - promotes social change and improves community conditions for healthy development. This brief reviews the theoretical and empirical rationales for youth-led participatory action research, its key principles, phases, practical implications and ethical issues. How to measure enabling and supportive systems for adolescent health - Enabling and protective systems for adolescents are the family, peers and the education and legal systems. This brief reviews the key concepts of social and structural determinants of health and the methodological issues related to their measurement in adolescence. Methodologies to capture the multidimensional effects of economic strengthening interventions - Aid agencies and non-governmental organizations have begun to include economic strengthening interventions as part of their core programming. This brief presents strategies for examining the multidimensional effects of economic strengthening interventions with a specific focus on the health and well-being of adolescent beneficiaries, highlighting research gaps and opportunities.The aim of these briefs is to improve efforts to collect rigorous evidence for programmes and policies on adolescent health and well-being. They will assist a wide range of professionals and stakeholders who conduct, commission or interpret research findings to make decisions about programming, policy and advocacy.This initiative was funded by the UK Department for International Development. The Editors of the series were John Santelli, MD, MPH, Columbia University and Nikola Balvin, PsyD, UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti.
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Call for Papers on Social Protection in Contexts of Fragility and Forced Displacement

(7 April 2017) Humanitarian challenges of protracted fragility and conflict-related crises, and the recent unprecedented migration and refugee movement around the globe, underscore the need to break down the barriers between humanitarian and development work. In fragile contexts and protracted crises, such as in Afghanistan and Somalia, responsive long-term systems are needed to reach affected vulnerable populations consistently. Acute and extended crises such as in Syria, have contributed to migration flows, which also highlight the need for long-term solutions in countries of destination. Over 65 million individuals were estimated to have been forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of prosecution, conflict, generalized violence, or other human rights violations in 2015, representing an increase of almost six million compared to the previous year (UNHCR, 2016).Social protection is increasingly considered a policy response in contexts of fragility and displacement. In non-fragile contexts, extensive evidence demonstrates that social protection helps reduce poverty and inequality, enhances livelihoods, and has long-term positive impacts on human capital development (ODI, 2016; UNICEF, 2015; Davis et al., 2016). As part of the commitments under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1, the global community pledges to expand the coverage of social protection measures for all, and achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable by 2030. This expansion must include scale up of social protection in contexts of fragility and forced displacement, to ensure no one is left behind. Concomitantly, development actors recognized the importance of social protection at the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), and committed through the Grand Bargain to “increase social protection programmes and strengthen national and local systems and coping mechanisms in order to build resilience in fragile contexts” (World Humanitarian Summit, 2016).While establishing effective social protection in the context of protracted instability and displaced populations is more complex, it is also increasingly viewed as an essential mechanism to bridge the humanitarian-developmental divide. However, despite the increasing use of social protection in these settings, we know comparatively little from rigorous research regarding what works, and why. Within acute crises, actors have an increased responsibility to ensure that evidence-based learning is followed such that aid is delivered in a way that not only maximize benefits to affected populations, but also at the same time minimizes risks. As sources of conflict and instability are likely to be context specific, an increased investment is needed to produce evidence filling these gaps. For example, Doocy and Tappis (2016) carry out a systematic review of cash-based approaches in humanitarian and emergency settings with the primary objective of synthesizing evidence of impacts on individual and household-level outcomes, and a secondary objective of identifying program factors that hinder and facilitate programme implementation. For the first objective, out of over 4,000 studies identified in a first search, only five studies were identified which rigorously measured impact of cash-based schemes, while ten studies measured efficiency and 108 operational components. Of the five studies identified, the majority assessed outcomes of household-level food security, poverty and other economic outcomes, leaving large gaps in terms of human capital, child protection and other social or psychological well-being outcomes. The conclusion of large geographic and sectoral gaps is also shared by a review completed by the World Bank for the Inter-Agency Standing Committee in 2016, focused on scaling up cash transfers in humanitarian settings.While significant challenges arise in conducting research in fragile contexts, and among mobile and marginalized groups, there are increasing examples of how ethical and rigorous research can be done – often utilizing creative research designs and technology to facilitate data collection in safe modalities. Where achieved, this research should be made accessible within a short time frame to fill knowledge gaps to increase informed decision making for policymakers and practitioners.Call for papers: themes and research questionsThis call for papers aims to assemble high quality papers that will increase our understanding of: 1) the role of social protection in fragile contexts and settings of forced displacement and migration; and 2) synergies across the humanitarian and development divide in both contexts. The aim is to assemble 8 to 10 papers of sufficient quality to be jointly submitted for a special issue to the Journal of Development Studies, or featured in an edited book. An introduction to the special issue or book will summarize the volume, draw out policy implications and lay out key areas of future research. Reviewed and approved papers will also be featured in the UNICEF Office of Research–Innocenti working paper series.Some submissions are expected to draw on evidence presented at an International Conference focusing on the same themes organized by UNICEF, the European Commission and partners (Finland, Germany,  the World Bank, the World Food Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and others) to take place in July 2017 in Brussels, Belgium. It is expected that these papers and others coming from outside the conference will include quantitative and mixed methods work, focusing on diverse social protection research resulting in policy-relevant lessons for governments, humanitarian and development actors, and the larger donor and stakeholder communities.Examples of research questions to be addressed in paper submission include (but are not limited to):What are the relative impacts and cost-effectiveness of diverse social protection designs in fragile contexts (e.g. cash versus in-kind or vouchers; use of mobile transfer technology) on dimensions of well-being for families and children, including over the long-term, to build resiliency?What role can social protection play in preventing forcibly displaced children from becoming a ‘lost generation’?What are the conflict, political stability, local economy and governance implications of government and NGO provision of social protection in the context of fragility? How can social protection facilitate access to larger social systems for refugees and protect against discrimination, marginalization and impoverishment? Does social protection mitigate against forced displacement, or address drivers of migration and inequalities in countries of origin, transit, and host countries?Expected timeline and processBelow is the proposed timeline for submitting the assembled papers as a potential Special Issue. 7 April 2017: Call for papers announced through the UNICEF Innocenti website, alongside announcement of International Conference on the same thematic topics through multiple channels15 July 2017: Deadline to submit extended abstract to Guest Editors (proposed length of 1,000 words) by email: jdehoop@unicef.org  15 August 2017: Decision papers communicated. Shortlisted authors requested to prepare their full-length draft papers15 November 2107: First draft of papers due to Guest Editors. Papers to undergo rapid feedback and requests for essential revisions returned to authors15 December 2017: Final drafts of papers alongside Introduction of Special Issue submitted to journal for review UNICEF Innocenti and Guest EditorsThe UNICEF Office of Research—Innocenti is UNICEF’s dedicated research arm. The office is a small group of interdisciplinary researchers, of which the Social and Economic Policy (SEP) Unit makes up the largest research cluster (15 individuals). Under the umbrella of the Transfer Project, SEP has engaged in over a dozen mixed-method evaluations of government social protection programmes, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa, and is expanding its focus to encompass fragile contexts. UNICEF works on social protection programmes in over 100 countries, and is one of the only large international actors with presence bridging both the humanitarian and development divide. As part of the Grand Bargain, UNICEF has committed to scaling up the use of cash in emergencies and is committed to systems building to improve lives of children and families. Thus, the UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti is well positioned to convene and to disseminate policy-relevant research on this topic.The special issue will be edited by a team of social policy and migration specialists at the UNICEF Office of Research–Innocenti composed of Drs. Jose Cuesta, Bina D’Costa, Jacob de Hoop and Amber Peterman. Shortlisted papers will be reviewed by Professor Brück is Director of the International Security and Development Centre (ISDC) and group leader at Leibniz-Institut für Gemüse- und Zierpflanzenbau (IGZ). Dr Ugo Gentilini is a Senior Economist at the World Bank. 
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Child online rights and privacy in focus at major conference in Brussels

(5 April 2017) A major conference on digital rights in Brussels has attracted over 1,500 people from 500 organisations including members of government, NGOs, policy makers, development practitioners and researchersThe annual RightsCon summit in Brussels drew participants together for consultation on issues of technology and human rights with keynote speakers including Alexander de Croo, Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium and Frank La Rue, Assistant Director General of Communications and Information at UNESCO.  Researchers from UNICEF Innocenti attended the conference and hosted a panel discussion on Child Rights Online: Privacy and Freedom of Expression alongside major contributors including the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy, Prof. Joseph Cannataci and representatives from NGOs and the private sector including the Lego Group, GSMA and Millicom among others. UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Privacy, Joseph Cannataci, presents at a UNICEF Innocenti hosted panel discussion on child online rights, privacy and freedom of expression at the RightsCon summit“The conference comes at a crucial time when one in three children are internet users and more children are going online at younger ages,” said Jasmina Byrne, lead researcher on children and digital rights at UNICEF Innocenti and panel chair.“This has major repercussions for child online rights and privacy. It was important for us that we took an evidence based approach to the issue.” Mr Cannataci spoke about privacy and children’s rights as a complex web recognising that privacy is essential for the development of a child’s personality and autonomy and that the violation of the right to privacy might affect other human rights, including the right to freedom of expression and to hold opinions without interference. “Children go between offline and online environments and shift between the two. The risks, both on-line and offline do not always relate to the child’s age but to the level of their maturity and the way they approach risks. We need a more sophisticated way of understanding risks that are not only based on age,” said Mr Cannataci adding that it was important to take into account the evolving capacities of the child when understanding issues surrounding child rights and privacy.  Mario Viola de Azevedo Cunha, Senior Research Fellow at UNICEF Innocenti and panellist presented on sharenting and emphasised the need for parents to better protect children’s privacy online. “Privacy is not only undermined by corporations and governments but also by parents and teachers,” he said.“Privacy laws around the world and the processing of personal data online is based on parental consent. This has consequences in terms of privacy because they [parents] monitor what their children are doing online. They also can overexpose their children by oversharing images of children online. When you protect child privacy you help develop a child’s personality and protect other rights including freedom of expression and the right to the access of information.”Also participating in the panel were representatives from UNICEF’s Child Rights and Business Unit working on child rights and business, Patrick Geary and Amaya Gorostiaga, who presented key findings from their newly published discussion paper on privacy, protection of personal information and reputation rights, which identifies key threats to children’s rights online and also provides recommendations for the ICT sector on responsibilities and opportunities to respond to privacy risks. The paper is the first in a series of discussion papers on children's rights and business in a digital world, which will also explore freedom of expression and right to information, access and digital literacy, advertising and marketing, and further topics of interest.Panel discussions also revolved around the newly formed UN Human Rights Council Resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age which now takes into account the right of the child, referring expressly to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. “The new UN HRC Resolution that makes explicit reference to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and calls for special consideration to children is an opportunity to develop a more comprehensive international agenda on children’s privacy and data protection as critical safeguards of children’s rights both offline and online.” said Jasmina Byrne.Find out more about UNICEF Innocenti's research on child internet use.
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Quick summary of latest Innocenti Research Digest|Adolescence, #5

(5 April 2017) Our latest quarterly Innocenti Research Digest|Adolescence synthesizes the latest research findings in adolescent well-being over the first quarter of 2017. Key themes include: the new UN General Comment on the Rights of the Child during adolescence; the risks refugee and migrant children face on the central Mediterranean migration route; and the work of the Know Violence in Childhood: Global Learning Initiative, established as a collective response by individuals from multilateral institutions, non-governmental organizations and funding agencies concerned about the global impact of violence in childhood and the need for investment in effective violence prevention strategies. For a complete look including current links to all the news, upcoming events, resources and latest research resources collected in the digest download here.   We provide a short selection of key resources here:NEWSUN General Comment on the Rights of the Child during Adolescence – In February, the United Nations adopted General Comment No. 20, providing countries with detailed normative guidance on the measures needed to ensure the rights of children during adolescence. This provision helps to raise the profile of adolescence as a period of capacity development, distinct from childhood and adulthood.UNICEF Warns of the Extreme Risks facing Refugee and Migrant Children on the Central Mediterranean Migration Route – Refugee and migrant children routinely suffer sexual violence, exploitation, abuse and detention, along the central Mediterranean migration route from North Africa to Italy, warns UNICEF in this new report. In 2016, children made up nearly 16% of new arrivals in Italy via the central Mediterranean route, and 9 out of 10 children were unaccompanied. Global Status Report on School Violence and Bullying – It is estimated that 246 million children and adolescents experience school violence and bullying in some form every year. In response, UNESCO and the Institute of School Violence Prevention at Ewha Womans University (Seoul, Republic of Korea) launched a report at the International Symposium on School Violence and Bullying, from 17 to 19 January 2017.(Download digest for all news)EVENTS International Association for Adolescent Health (IAAH) Conference: Towards health and wellbeing for all adolescents by 2030 – Organizers: International Association for Adolescent Health; Arab Coalition for Adolescent Health; and the Egyptian Society for Adolescent Medicine. Date: 12-14 May 2017 Location: Cairo, Egypt 11th World Congress on Adolescent Health – Organizers: International Association for Adolescent Health (IAAH); MAMTA Health Institute for Mother and Child; and Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), with the support of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Date: 27-29 October 2017 Location: New Delhi, India Registration Global Adolescent Health Conference: Unleashing the Power of a Generation – Organizers: Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH); Every Woman Every Child (EWEC); the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH); and the World Health Organization (WHO). Date: 16-17 May 2017 Location: Ottawa, Canada (Download digest to see all event/register)RESOURCESWorld Future Council Good Practice Guide on Protecting Refugee Women and Girls – Profiling more than 30 examples of innovative good practice from 13 different countries, this resource includes case studies on protecting adolescent girls from violence, during their journey and in destination countries. Gulu, Uganda - February 8: Acan Everline Linda at UNIFAT P/S, Gulu Municipality, Gulu District February 8 2011USAID and PEPFAR Positive Youth Development Measurement Toolkit – The Positive Youth Development (PYD) approaches to evaluation help measure the extent to which young people are positively engaged in, and benefit from, interventions focused on their empowerment. UNFPA and WHO Technical Guidance on Adolescent Health – Systematic processes for identifying priorities and actions for adolescents to thrive in their communities, are part of the new technical guidance, developed by the UNFPA and WHO. WHO Fact Sheets on Adolescent Contraceptive Use – Designed to help policy makers and programme planners reduce inequalities in contraceptive service provision, WHO’s new country fact sheets include data from 58 countries on adolescents’ current sources of contraception, methods utilized, and explanations why contraception is not used.Review on Preventing Household Violence in Humanitarian Settings – In this review, the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action and the CPC Learning Network analyze interventions used in humanitarian contexts to prevent violence against women (VAW) and violence against children (VAC).RESEARCHSpecial Issue of Know Violence in Childhood: A global learning initiative – Eds Kumar et al., Journal of Psychology, Health and Medicine, March 2017. This special issue of the Journal of Psychology, Health and Medicine features 15 studies commissioned by the Know Violence learning initiative, focusing on effective interventions to positively impact violence during childhood and adolescence. A review of evidence-based practices to address social norms and violence highlights the importance of combining strategic approaches (e.g. targeting social norms directly, changing attitudes and behaviour to shift social norms), core principles (e.g. using public health frameworks), and intervention strategies (e.g. engaging bystanders, involving stakeholders Towards Gender Equality: The GEMS journey thus far. An Evaluation Report of the Gender Equality Movement in Schools (GEMS) Program in Jharkland – International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), December 2016. An evaluation of the Gender Equality Movement in Schools (GEMS), a curriculum for children aged 12-14 in India, observed significant improvements in the children’s attitudes to gender and violence, the interaction between boys and girls, communication with teachers, and reduced perpetration of violence. The Health Benefits of Secondary Education in Adolescents and Young Adults: An international analysis in 186 low-, middle- and high-income countries from 1990 to 2013 – Viner et al., SSM – Population Health, December 2016. Analysis of global data between 1990 and 2013 reveals that improvements in secondary education have led to substantial health benefits, including decreases in adolescent fertility, HIV prevalence, and mortality rates among young people. Positive health outcomes are greatest amongst young women and those from low-income countries, particularly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Has Child Marriage Declined in sub-Saharan Africa? An analysis of trends in 31 countries - Koski et al., Population and Development Review, February 2017. Decreases in the prevalence of child marriage are concentrated among girls aged 15 -17 years according to a study of Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) data from 31 sub-Saharan African countries. The study highlights that high levels of child marriage persist throughout much of sub Saharan Africa, despite legislative efforts to prevent the practice. When the Money Runs Out: Do cash transfers have sustained effects on human capital accumulation? – Baird et al., World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 7901, December 2016. According to the findings of a recent study in the Zomba district of Malawi, many of the initial benefits of a pilot two-year cash transfer programme targeting girls aged 13-22 were found to be short term. Significant declines in HIV prevalence, teen pregnancy, and early marriage among recipients of unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) during the programme evaporated quickly two years after the cessation of transfers. Maternal Undernutrition and Childbearing in Adolescence and Offspring Growth and Development: Is adolescence a critical window for interventions against stunting? - Benny et al., Young Lives Working Paper 165, February 2017. Children born to stunted adolescent mothers have a 15% higher chance of being stunted and an 11% higher chance of being underweight than children whose older mothers were not malnourished. According to analysis of longitudinal data on a cohort of children and their mothers from Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam, these differences persist through adolescence. For a complete look including current links to all the news, upcoming events, online courses, resources and latest important research collected in the digest download here.  
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Save the Children and UNICEF discuss ‘Understanding Pathways’ to prevent violence

(4 April 2017) As the first stage of the Multi-Country Study of the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children draws to a close an important consultation has been organized by UNICEF Innocenti and Save the Children to review current findings and chart the next stage of the study. The Understanding Pathways workshop in Bangkok, Thailand brings together leading researchers from the four focus countries of the Multi-Country Study (Italy, Peru, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe); additional research partners from Cambodia, Indonesia, Tanzania, Paraguay, the Philippines and Serbia (where ‘Research to Policy and Practice Processes,’ informed by the Innocenti study have been launched); UNICEF country level child protection specialists and key government and research partners who have gained a better understanding what drives childhood violence and what can be done about it.The first stage of the Multi-Country Study focused on grounding the research through systematic literature reviews and secondary data analysis to understand what is currently known about sexual, physical and emotional violence affecting children in their homes, schools and communities. Each country underwent an ‘action analysis’ process to prioritize one entry point (homes, schools or communities) in which to reduce a specific type of violence (emotional, physical or sexual). The study's second stage will now focus on testing potential or current interventions.Save the Children has recently launched a new strategic initiative: Violence is No Longer Tolerated, and has expressed interest in collaborating on the second stage of the study, with focus on identifying effective country strategies to protect children from violence. Save the Children programme specialists from each of the ten participating countries are now engaged in inter-agency learning and action planning to ensure that global work to end violence benefits from the complementary initiatives.UNICEF and Save the Children child protection staff in a working session at the Understanding Pathways workshop on the drivers of violence affecting children, Bangkok, Thailand (April 2017)"When researchers meet practitioners and work together to question evidence and move it into action, social change is inevitable," said Mary Catherine Maternowska, research lead on violence affecting children at UNICEF Innocenti. "Partnerships have formed, collaborations and co-discovery continues. The process brings out the best of both agencies."Save the Children’s contribution within the framework of the Multi-Country Study includes strengthening the child participation component of the research methodology, to ensure children’s voice and perspectives are incorporated in an ethical manner. Save the Children will offer existing materials, experience, knowledge and learning around Pathways to Change.Through co-learning and co-creation processes, UNICEF and Save the Children technical specialists, as well as external experts, will lead country teams through a process of developing theoretical and practical frameworks to guide future intervention research. The overall goal is to strengthen the evidence base for effective, adaptive violence prevention programming. Opportunities for collaborating in the next stage of research and testing of interventions will also be planned.Working session on the first day of the Understanding Pathways workshop on the drivers of violence affecting children, Bangkok, Thailand (April 2017)By the end of the Understanding Pathways workshop country teams will have developed: 1) a draft theory of change for priority areas for violence affecting children and related program logic, and 2) a draft applied research concept note needed for improved intervention design and testing to occur during the next phase. Interventions proposed will build on evidence of what works to prevent violence among, especially vulnerable groups. 
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UNICEF Innocenti 2016 Results Report now available

(31 March 2016) The following is UNICEF Innocenti Director Sarah Cook’s foreword to our 2016 Results Report. Download the report to get the full story of our work last year.2016 saw significant achievements across all areas of Innocenti’s work, delivered by our committed team of researchers, analysts, communications and operations specialists, working in collaboration with a wide range of partners – from UNICEF country offices and their local counterparts, to colleagues in headquarters, UNICEF National Committees, academic institutions around the world, and our host, Istituto degli Innocenti, together with other partners in Italy.Following leadership changes in 2015, the Office looked to 2016 as a year for consolidation of recent progress and expansion, continued implementation of an ambitious research agenda, and delivery of significant publications, events and impacts. We can look back with satisfaction at progress made in many areas of concern for UNICEF and for children. At the same time, from our location in Italy, we saw at close hand the effects of conflict and crisis, driving a wave of refugees and migrants across the Mediterranean – creating urgent demands for evidence to which we have responded with a new programme of research on children in contexts of migration, displacement and conflict.Evidence of the impact of our research and its uptake within and beyond the organization is visible at multiple levels – from the work of country and regional offices, to influence on government policies and global debates, incorporating children or child-related concerns into academic research and policy. Detailed examples can be found in the pages of this report. They include: national policy changes flowing from research on violence and bullying; replication and scaling-up of parenting programmes based on evidence; generating the evidence base on how children use the internet as a basis for understanding both opportunities and risks, as well as identifying key regulatory gaps in relation to children and the internet, data and privacy; and synthesizing research findings on adolescence through a series of Digests to support programming in the field. The influence of Innocenti’s long-term research project that evaluates cash transfer (and increasingly ‘cash-plus’) programmes across sub-Saharan Africa continues to grow. This collaborative initiative has provided detailed evidence to national governments and UNICEF offices to support the introduction and scaling-up of transfers, while also busting myths about the impacts of cash (for example, on fertility or dependence) and demonstrating impacts of cash in areas such as adolescent health and wellbeing, violence and safe transitions to adulthood.A key role of the Office of Research–Innocenti is to foster the generation and use of good quality research and evidence across UNICEF. Led by the Research Facilitation Team at Innocenti, the past year has seen the establishment of a strong research governance framework for UNICEF. In February, the UNICEF Policy for Research was approved by the Executive Director. This sets out key principles, standards, accountabilities and coordination mechanisms for research across the organization, complementing existing procedures and guidelines on quality assurance and ethics. Innocenti staff have worked closely with regional and country Offices to provide technical support and undertake training programmes on research and knowledge management. For the fourth year in succession, the Best of UNICEF Research drew attention to some of the outstanding research produced or in collaboration with UNICEF staff around the world.Supporting these efforts towards broader engagement and impact, 2016 also saw major steps forward in Innocenti’s communications with the redesign of our website, a more regular e-newsletter, blogs and more adventurous use of social media – all of which help to share research findings, stimulate debate and engage a wider audience.Also in support of partnerships and impact, the Office is capitalizing on its location and convening capacity to create a vibrant space for debate on critical issues for children. Meetings hosted included a session with Council of Europe Parliamentarians, a consultation of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Children, WHO’s Child Friendly Hospitals initiative and an expert group meeting on social protection and violence in childhood. Events with UNICEF colleagues included the annual DREAM meeting of Data, Research, Evaluation and Monitoring staff, the Social Inclusion team network meeting, and a training course on public finance for children.Building on these achievements, we enter 2017 in a strong position for achieving ambitious goals. We look forward to working with colleagues across UNICEF in developing a research agenda aligned with the new strategic plan, and to further strengthening our capacities and those of UNICEF in a broader sense, in generating and using knowledge to achieve positive change for children. 
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A new study reviews the impacts of child labour policies

(22 March 2017) Common social policy interventions can reduce child labor, but may also have unintended consequences. A new study called Effects of Public Policy on Child Labor summarizes the evidence on the relationship between policy interventions and child labor, highlights gaps in our understanding of this relationship, and discusses implications for program design. The paper was prepared by researchers at UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, Carleton University, the  International Labour Organization, and the  World Bank. Building on a literature review, the study examines how social protection programs and labor market policies affect child labor supply. “A few results stand out. Programs that reduce poverty and increase resilience in the face of economic shocks, such as cash transfer programs, tend to increase household investment in education and reduce reliance on children for income generation,” said Jacob de Hoop, Social Policy Specialist at UNICEF Innocenti and one of the new study’s authors. Effects of programs that also increase the labor supply of adult household members are harder to predict. While these policies may increase household income, they may also increase children’s return to work. Adults who participate in public works programs, for instance, may rely on their children to take over some economic activities and household chores.  According to de Hoop, “Most interventions can have offsetting effects on the complex intra-household decision making process that determines child labor supply. We therefore turned to the empirical literature to better understand the key pathways through which common policy interventions affect child labor and to aggregate lessons for program types.” The study suggests that programs that may potentially increase child labor supply could be modified to avoid adverse effects. Rigorous evidence on potential modifications, such as making child labor a more salient issue for program beneficiaries, would be useful.The authors further note that there are questions around the implications of policy-induced changes in child labor supply for child wellbeing. Some forms of work can be innocuous or beneficial to the child, while other forms may be harmful. Yet, few studies examine detrimental (or beneficial) aspects of child work, such as excessive working hours and exposure to work-related hazards.A US Department of Labor funded research initiative at UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti aims to address some of these challenging outstanding questions, building on data collected as part of the Transfer Project in Malawi, Tanzania, and Zambia. 
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Parenting interventions are effective when transported from one country to another

(17 March 2017) There is strong evidence that behavioural parenting programmes improve caregiver-child relationships, reduce child problem behaviour, and prevent physical and emotional violence against children. Many governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations, which address child maltreatment and youth problem behaviour, are promoting widespread roll-out of parenting programmes. A new Innocenti Research Brief, Parenting Interventions: How well do they transport from one country to another? , written by Professor Frances Gardner of the Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention, Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford, summarizes her team’s recent findings from two global, systematic reviews ( here and here) of the effectiveness of parenting interventions. UNICEF offices have become increasingly interested in introducing parenting support into their programming, with a focus ranging from violence prevention to early childhood development. To date, the majority of evaluations that show the effects of parenting programmes are from high-income countries, although there is a growing list of rigorous, randomized trials from low- and middle-income countries, including Indonesia, Iran, Liberia and Panama. UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti has worked on research related to support for families and parents since 2013. In particular, Innocenti supported research on the Sinovuyo Caring Families Programme for parents and Teens, by partnering with Oxford University in doing qualitative research that examined service delivery mechanisms and implications for taking it to scale. This study complemented the randomized control trial. As interest in parenting programmes grows, policymakers, service providers and others are faced with a range of decisions, including whether to import an intervention from another country or region (which may have very different cultural values), or whether to develop one locally. We use the term ‘transport’ to refer to moving a programme from one country to another. Developing a new programme is time-consuming and costly. Established parenting programmes – those with the best evidence of effectiveness – have been designed using decades’ worth of knowledge and behavioural research. The two recent reviews summarized in the new Innocenti Research Brief investigated the transportability of parenting interventions. The first looked at whether interventions are effective when they are transported from one country to another, and whether differences in cultural factors or family policy regimes could influence effectiveness. The second tested directly whether locally developed or transported programmes are more effective. Findings of the same review suggested that interventions transported from the United States and Australia to other high-income countries in a largely European or North American cultural context, showed comparable effect sizes to those in the country of origin. However, effect sizes were higher when the same interventions were transported to regions that were culturally more distant: Asia; Latin America; and the Middle East.  
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Impact of Zambia’s Child Grant Programme on women’s empowerment

(9 March 2017) Despite the potential of cash transfers to empower women, the evidence supporting this outcome is not conclusive, especially from programs at scale in sub-Saharan Africa. The authors of a new study, Cash for Women’s Empowerment? A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of the Government of Zambia’s Child Grant Program, have conducted a qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the Government of Zambia’s Child Grant Program, a poverty-targeted, unconditional transfer given to mothers or primary caregivers of young children aged zero to five. The results show a number of positive linkages between social cash transfers and different measures of women’s empowerment. UNICEF Innocenti researchers, in partnership with the American Institutes for Research and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill authored the paper under the Transfer Project initiative, with support from UNICEF Zambia. The paper was published in the academic journal World Development in advance of International Women’s Day. The quantitative component of the study was a four-year longitudinal clustered-randomized control trial in three rural districts, and the qualitative component was a one-time data collection involving in-depth interviews with women and their partners stratified on marital status and program participation. The study found that women in beneficiary households were making more sole or joint decisions (across five out of nine domains); however, impacts translated into relatively modest increases in the number of decision domains a woman is involved in. Women’s narratives captured through qualitative measures showed the cash transfer increased financial empowerment as they were able to retain control over transfers for household investment and savings for emergencies. “I have also been empowered because of the child grant. I never used to have my own money, but now even as I suggest something to my husband I don’t feel worthless because I have money in my hands. It is my first time to experience such; I am really empowered.” Female, beneficiary, married, age 24 Results show potential for unconditional cash transfer programs to improve the financial and intra-household status of female beneficiaries, however it is likely that additional design components are need for transformational change. The evaluation is of particular interest, as it uses a large-scale, government-run program, instead of temporary pilot program implemented by a non-governmental organization. In addition, the authors are are able to make conclusions based on a relatively long period of programme receipt (four years), therefore overcoming limitations of other studies, which may examine only shorter-term impacts. Finally, the combination of quantitative and qualitative data makes it possible to interrogate the concept of women’s empowerment and assess if quantitative measures of decision making, commonly used in the literature to proxy for bargaining power, are likely to capture the intended concept assigned by researchers. This study is important for governments, policy makers, and program implementers who are engaged in social cash transfers for poverty reduction. On one hand, the study contributes to quantitative evidence that suggests the Zambia Child Grant Program positively affected women’s decision making, however due to existing gender norms, impacts on sole and joint decision making translated into relatively minor actual shifts. In addition, the research highlights methodological challenges associated with equating commonly used decision making quantitative indicators with ‘empowerment’ more broadly. Thus, authors conclude that programmes such as the Child Grant Programme realize beneficial gendered impacts, but fail to shift gender norms in a transformational way.  Read more about Innocenti’s social cash transfer work here, including a blog and research brief on gender and cash transfers. 
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Towards a clearer understanding of gender socialization in adolescence

(8 March 2017) Outcomes for  women in employment, education, social protection, politics, science and many  other areas of well-being, lag far behind those for men. This inequality often starts in childhood and holds across the life course. In many places in the world, girls are born into a context of inequality and have limited opportunities to change their situation. The process of ‘gender socialization’ – the way people learn to behave according to internalized gender norms as they become actors in society – and the many factors that influence it, contribute greatly to unequal outcomes for girls and women across the world. Working with the  International Center for Research on Women, UNICEF Innocenti has just published a discussion paper: Gender socialization during adolescence in low- and middle-income countries which provides an overview of the gender socialization process from its basic theoretical foundations to contemporary programme interventions that aim to influence it. The new discussion paper has been published by UNICEF Innocenti today in honor of  International Women’s Day 2017, which this year carries the theme of Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030 . The aim is to focus on achieving gender equality in the labour force globally, recognizing it as an “ imperative for sustainable development.” “As a starting point, we wanted to gain a better understanding of gender socialization by writing a well-researched discussion paper to explore theories from key disciplines (psychology, sociology, biology). Our aim was to capture what these disciplines say about gender socialization and its influences and outcomes by developing a socio-ecological framework which could be used to guide programmes and policy-making,” said UNICEF Innocenti's Nikola Balvin, who supervised the project. Defining gender socialization The new paper's extensive literature review allowed the authors to develop a comprehensive definition of gender socialization: "a process by which individuals develop, refine and learn to ‘do’ gender through internalizing gender norms and roles as they interact with key agents of socialization, such as their family, social networks and other social institutions.” But just what does this mean in everyday life? “Gender socialization begins to take place as soon as children are born and sometimes even in utero. In most contexts, parents and family members treat boys and girls differently. They may dress them in different colours or buy them different toys and as they get older, they may punish and reward differently, give them different household duties, provide different opportunities to go to school, socialize with friends and so on. As children get older, the list of people who communicate what constitutes appropriate gender behaviour to them expands beyond the family and includes, peers, teachers, community leaders, public figures and many more,” says Balvin. Children do not remain passive in this process and themselves internalize gender identities and enforce norms and expectations in their interaction with others. Gender socialization during adolescence Being the bridge between childhood and adulthood, adolescence is the critical period where many of the outcomes of gender inequality manifest or intensify. Disadvantages experienced by adolescent girls include harmful practices and negative outcomes such as child marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting, teenage pregnancy, school drop out, and a high prevalence of HIV. (UNICEF, 2014; WHO, 2016)  Adolescence is also a period when along with rapid physical, sexual and brain development, the  shaping of gender beliefs and attitudes intensifies. UNICEF and others have come to see adolescence as a “second window of opportunity” to redirect negative trajectories from childhood and start new ones that lead to positive outcomes for girls and boys, and later in life women and men. The discussion paper also includes a rapid review of gender socialization interventions aimed at adolescence. It identifies 31 such evaluated programmes and groups the strategies they employed to make recommendations for more holistic programming. Structural factors and gender socialization “Programme interventions usually focus on individuals and communities and we wanted to make sure that the bigger picture within which gender socialization is shaped does not get left out,” said Balvin about the paper’s objective to review societal level factors such as migration, fertility, global media and socio-economic development. The paper recognizes the importance of the labour force in achieving more equal gender power relations. In low- and middle-income countries the global economy has resulted in more women entering the work force, shifting women’s work location outside the household, going from unpaid to paid employment and urban migration where women and men may be exposed to more progressive gender norms, etc. However, the opportunities presented by economic growth are usually mediated by patriarchal social forces that negatively impact on women in the work-force: the type of work they do, the work load they may be burdened with, unequal pay and conditions, all making the world of work a significant contributor to unbalanced gender norms and values.  “The paper spends a lot of time unpacking the macro, meso and micro factors that influence gender socialization during adolescence to provide a comprehensive understanding of the process and guide a more integrated approach to making decisions about programmes and policies to achieve gender equality and… sustainable development.” 
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