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Increasing Women’s Representation in School Leadership: A promising path towards improving learning
SPOTLIGHT

Increasing Women’s Representation in School Leadership: A promising path towards improving learning

Emerging evidence shows a positive association between women school leaders and student performance. Some studies suggest women school leaders are more likely than their male counterparts to adopt effective management practices that may contribute to improved outcomes. However, women remain largely underrepresented in school leadership positions, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. This brief presents emerging insights on the association between women school leaders and education outcomes and draws attention to women’s underrepresentation in school leadership roles. It highlights the need for further research on gender and school leadership to identify policies and practices that can be implemented to increase women’s representation and scale high-quality management practices adopted by women leaders to more schools to improve education outcomes for all children.
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Annual Report 2021
Publication

Annual Report 2021

The UNICEF Innocenti Annual Report 2021 highlights the key results achieved in research and evidence to inform policymaking and programming.
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Interventions to Reduce Violence Against Children in Low- and Middle-income Countries: Evidence and gap map research brief of phase 1 and 2 findings
Interventions to Reduce Violence Against Children in Low- and Middle-income Countries: Evidence and gap map research brief of phase 1 and 2 findings

AUTHOR(S)
Ashrita Saran; Manahil Siddiqi; Ramya Subrahmanian; Howard White

Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Briefs

Evidence on interventions for reducing violence against children (VAC) has steadily increased over the years. Yet, gaps remain when it comes to research investment priorities and future studies.

This brief summarizes the key findings from the Evidence Gap Map on interventions to reduce violence against children in low- and middle-income countries. It includes findings from Phase 1 (English-language publications) and Phase 2 (Arabic, Chinese, French, Portuguese and Spanish publications).  All technical details can be reviewed in the main report.

Child Marriage and Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program: Analysis of protective pathways in the Amhara region
Child Marriage and Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program: Analysis of protective pathways in the Amhara region

AUTHOR(S)
Maja Gavrilovic; Tia Palermo; Elsa Valli; Francesca Viola; Vincenzo Vinci; Karin Heissler; Mathilde Renault; Ana Gabriela Guerrero Serdan; Essa Chanie Mussa

Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Report

Emerging evidence suggests that social protection programmes can have a positive role in delaying marriage for girls. But the pathways and design features by which programmes may influence child marriage outcomes remain unknown. This mixed-methods study explores whether and how the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) in Ethiopia, given its national reach and potential to address poverty, can also affect child marriage practice. It draws on descriptive quantitative and qualitative data from an ongoing impact evaluation of the Integrated Safety Net Program (ISNP) pilot in the Amhara region. 

It finds that PSNP, through an economic channel, is effective in reducing financial pressures on families to marry off girls and in improving girls’ education opportunities. Income-strengthening measures must, however, be accompanied by complementary efforts – including girls’ empowerment, awareness-raising and legal measures – to transform deep-rooted social and gender norms and attitudes that perpetuate the harmful practice of child marriage.  

Child Marriage and Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program: Analysis of protective pathways in the Amhara region – Summary of report findings
Child Marriage and Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program: Analysis of protective pathways in the Amhara region – Summary of report findings
Published: 2020 Innocenti Research Briefs

Emerging evidence suggests that social protection programmes can have a positive role in delaying marriage for girls. But the pathways and design features by which programmes may influence child marriage outcomes remain unknown. This mixed-methods study explores whether and how the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) in Ethiopia, given its national reach and potential to address poverty, can also affect child marriage practice. It draws on descriptive quantitative and qualitative data from an ongoing impact evaluation of the Integrated Safety Net Program (ISNP) pilot in the Amhara region. 

It finds that PSNP, through an economic channel, is effective in reducing financial pressures on families to marry off girls and in improving girls’ education opportunities. Income-strengthening measures must, however, be accompanied by complementary efforts – including girls’ empowerment, awareness-raising and legal measures – to transform deep-rooted social and gender norms and attitudes that perpetuate the harmful practice of child marriage. 

Undermining Learning: Multi-Country Longitudinal Evidence on Corporal Punishment in Schools
Undermining Learning: Multi-Country Longitudinal Evidence on Corporal Punishment in Schools

AUTHOR(S)
Hayley Jones; Kirrily Pells

Published: 2016 Innocenti Research Briefs

Although it is often legally prohibited, the use of physical violence for discipline is a well-established norm in many communities, both at home and at school. Corporal punishment is often part of a wider problem of violence in schools, which includes other forms of humiliating punishment from teachers, peer bullying and gender-based violence. Violence in schools, including physical and verbal abuse by teachers and peers, is the foremost reason children aged 8 give for disliking school.

Entraver l’apprentissage : Preuves longitudinales multinationales sur les châtiments corporels dans les écoles
Entraver l’apprentissage : Preuves longitudinales multinationales sur les châtiments corporels dans les écoles

AUTHOR(S)
Hayley Jones; Kirrily Pells

Published: 2016 Innocenti Research Briefs

Bien qu’elle soit souvent légalement interdite, l’utilisation de la violence physique pour faire régner la discipline est une norme bien établie dans de nombreuses communautés, tant à la maison qu’à l’école. Les châtiments corporels font souvent partie d’un problème plus large de violence scolaire, qui comprend d’autres formes de châtiments humiliants infligés par les enseignants, le harcèlement entre condisciples et la violence sexuelle. La violence à l’école, y compris la violence physique et verbale des enseignants et des pairs, constitue la principale raison pour laquelle les enfants âgés de 8 ans n’aiment pas l’école.

Debilitamiento de la educación: evidencia longitudinal multinacional sobre el castigo corporal en las escuelas
Debilitamiento de la educación: evidencia longitudinal multinacional sobre el castigo corporal en las escuelas

AUTHOR(S)
Hayley Jones; Kirrily Pells

Published: 2016 Innocenti Research Briefs

Aunque a menudo está legalmente prohibido, el uso de la violencia física para inculcar la disciplina es una norma sólidamente establecida en muchas comunidades, tanto en el hogar como en la escuela. A menudo el castigo corporal forma parte de un problema general de violencia en las escuelas, que incluye otras formas de castigos humillantes por parte de los profesores, acoso escolar y violencia por razón de género. La violencia en las escuelas, incluyendo los abusos verbales y físicos por parte de profesores y compañeros, es el motivo principal por el que los niños de 8 años manifiestan no querer asistir a la escuela.

Le dinamiche del cambiamento sociale: verso l'abbandono dell'escissione/mutilazione dei genitali femminili in cinque paesi africani
Le dinamiche del cambiamento sociale: verso l'abbandono dell'escissione/mutilazione dei genitali femminili in cinque paesi africani
Published: 2011 Innocenti Insights
La pratica dell'E/MGF è a tutti gli effetti un atto di violenza, anche quando non è intesa come tale; è una manifestazione di disuguaglianze di genere profondamente radicate e ha natura discriminatoria. Essa si fonda su concezioni culturali della differenza di genere, della sessualità, del matrimonio e della famiglia che influenzano il modo in cui viene percepita e tollerata in contesti diversi. Nonostante le notevoli differenze riscontrate tra i cinque paesi analizzati come pure al loro interno, le esperienze confermano che, nelle comunità in cui viene perpetrata, l’E/MGF è vista come un passo necessario per crescere e proteggere una bambina e, spesso, per renderla adatta al matrimonio. L’escissione/mutilazione genitale femminile opera come una convenzione e una norma sociale perpetuata dalle aspettative reciproche all’interno di queste comunità.
The Dynamics of Social Change: Towards the abandonment of FGM/C in five African countries
The Dynamics of Social Change: Towards the abandonment of FGM/C in five African countries
Published: 2010 Innocenti Insights
This Innocenti Insight examines the social dynamics of the abandonment of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in five countries - Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal and the Sudan - and seeks to inform policies and programmes aimed at ending the practice. The experiences from the five countries documented in this Innocenti Insight provide evidence that the abandonment of FGM/C is possible when programmes and policies address the complex social dynamics associated with the practice and challenge established gender relationships and existing assumptions and stereotypes. This publication concludes with reflections on the remaining challenges of FGM/C abandonment and offers recommendations for future research and programme interventions.
La dynamique du changement social: vers l'abandon de l'excision/mutilation génitale fémine dans cinq pays africains
La dynamique du changement social: vers l'abandon de l'excision/mutilation génitale fémine dans cinq pays africains
Published: 2010 Innocenti Insights
Après avoir procédé à l’analyse de la dynamique sociale qui sous-tend l’éradication de l’excision et mutilation génitale féminine (E/MGF) dans cinq pays - l’Égypte, l’Éthiopie, le Kenya, le Sénégal et le Soudan - cet Innocenti Insight se propose de promouvoir l’élaboration de mesures politiques et de programmes de lutte contre ces coutumes. Les expériences menées dans ces cinq pays et rapportées dans cet Innocenti Insight apportent la preuve qu’il est possible de mettre fin à l’E/MGF si les programmes et les politiques s’intéressent à la dynamique sociale complexe associée à ces pratiques et remettent en question les relations hommes/femmes, les stéréotypes et les préjugés existants. Dans ses conclusions, la publication propose des réflexions sur les derniers obstacles à l’abandon de l’E/MGF et formule des recommandations pour les futurs programmes de recherche et d’intervention.
Ethiopia: Social dynamics of abandonment of harmful practices. Experiences in four locations
Ethiopia: Social dynamics of abandonment of harmful practices. Experiences in four locations

AUTHOR(S)
Haile Gabriel Dagne

Published: 2009 Innocenti Working Papers
Special Series on Social Norms and Harmful Practices

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) is still a widespread practice in Ethiopia, although important declines in prevalence rates can be observed in some areas of the country. Attitudes towards the practice have drastically changed, evidenced by the fact that overall support for FGM/C has declined and younger mothers are less likely than older mothers to have their daughters cut. This paper provides an analysis of the social dynamics of change in four geographic locations with different ethnic populations in Ethiopia, where interventions were undertaken to support the abandonment of FGM/C and other harmful practices. Each experience used community conversation and dialogue as a tool to promote the abandonment process, although their overall strategies and impact differed. The four experiences together provide a greater understanding of the process of change within communities and the role played by key actors within and outside the community. The study demonstrates that by addressing FGM/C within a human rights context, community members are able to consider not cutting as a possible alternative to the existing convention of cutting. The human rights perspective also encourages reflection on gender roles, generating interest and dialogue about other social practices that harm women and girls, such as marriage by abduction and early marriage.
Sudan: An in-depth analysis of the social dynamics of abandonment of FGM/C
Sudan: An in-depth analysis of the social dynamics of abandonment of FGM/C

AUTHOR(S)
Samira Ahmed; S. Al Hebshi; B. V. Nylund

Published: 2009 Innocenti Working Papers
Special Series on Social Norms and Harmful Practices

This paper examines the experience of Sudan by analysing the factors that promote and support the abandonment of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and other harmful social practices. FGM/C is still widely practiced in all regions of northern Sudan but today actors are mobilizing across the country to end the practice. This paper analyses programmes that support ending FGM/C in Sudan and highlights the key factors that promote collective abandonment of the practice, including the roles of community dialogue, human rights deliberation, community-led activities, and the powerful force of local rewards and punishment. The Sudan experience demonstrates that social norms can change when a new understanding and appreciation of communities’ traditions and values is introduced. At policy level, the paper describes the adoption of laws and policies that prohibit or criminalize all forms of FGM/C and the introduction of integrated communication campaigns that have mobilized multiple actors to adopt and voice a consistent and clear stance against FGM/C.
Social Dynamics of Abandonment of Harmful Practices: A new look at the theory
Social Dynamics of Abandonment of Harmful Practices: A new look at the theory

AUTHOR(S)
Gerry Mackie

Published: 2009 Innocenti Working Papers
Special Series on Social Norms and Harmful Practices

The essay refines the application of the social convention theory to the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). The theory compares footbinding in China to FGM/C in Africa, explains each practice in terms of simple game theory, and recommends that the methods used to end footbinding be adapted to end FGM/C. It hypothesizes that each practice originated in highly stratified ancient empires, and became an ongoing requirement of marriageability, general and persistent within the intramarrying community because no one family can give it up on its own.
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Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children: Digital technology, play and child well-being
Publication

Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children: Digital technology, play and child well-being

Digital experiences can have significant negative impact on children, exposing them to risks or failing to nurture them adequately. Nevertheless, digital experiences also potentially yield enormous benefits for children, enabling them to learn, to create, to develop friendships, and to build worlds. While global efforts to deepen our understanding of the prevalence and impact of digital risks of harm are burgeoning – a development that is both welcome and necessary – less attention has been paid to understanding and optimizing the benefits that digital technology can provide in supporting children’s rights and their well-being. Benefits here refer not only to the absence of harm, but also to creating additional positive value. How should we recognize the opportunities and benefits of digital technology for children’s well-being? What is the relationship between the design of digital experiences – in particular, play-centred design – and the well-being of children? What guidance and measures can we use to strengthen the design of digital environments to promote positive outcomes for children? And how can we make sure that children’s insights and needs form the foundation of our work in this space? These questions matter for all those who design and promote digital experiences, to keep children safe and happy, and enable positive development and learning. These questions are particularly relevant as the world shifts its attention to emerging digital technologies and experiences, from artificial intelligence (AI) to the metaverse, and seeks to understand their impact on people and society. To begin to tackle these questions, UNICEF and the LEGO Group initiated the Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children (RITEC) project in partnership with the Young and Resilient Research Centre at Western Sydney University; the CREATE Lab at New York University; the Graduate Center, City University of New York; the University of Sheffield; the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child; and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. The research is funded by the LEGO Foundation. The partnership is an international, multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral collaboration between organizations that believe the design and development of digital technology should support the rights and well-being of children as a primary objective – and that children should have a prominent voice in making this a reality. This project’s primary objective is to develop, with children from around the world, a framework that maps how the design of children’s digital experiences affects their well-being, and to provide guidance as to how informed design choices can promote positive well-being outcomes.
Resources to Support Marginalized Caregivers of Children with Disabilities: Guidelines for Implementation
Publication

Resources to Support Marginalized Caregivers of Children with Disabilities: Guidelines for Implementation

Support from caregivers is critical for children’s learning both at home and at school. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and disruption of education systems globally created additional expectations for parents to support their children’s learning at home. This particularly affected the most marginalized children as the crises exacerbated already existing inequalities in education. This document introduces the approach and purpose of a set of resources to support the marginalized caregivers of children with disabilities with inclusive education. It presents lessons learned from proof-of-concept pilots in Armenia and Uzbekistan, followed by step-by-step guidelines on how to adopt and adapt the resources for education ministries and others who want to implement them in their education system.
Reopening with Resilience: Lessons from Remote Learning during COVID-19: Europe and Central Asia
Publication

Reopening with Resilience: Lessons from Remote Learning during COVID-19: Europe and Central Asia

When schools started closing their doors due to COVID-19, countries in Europe and Central Asia quickly provided alternative learning solutions for children to continue learning. More than 90 per cent of countries offered digital solutions to ensure that education activities could continue. However, lack of access to digital devices and a reliable internet connection excluded a significant amount of already marginalized children and threatened to widen the existing learning disparities. This report builds on existing evidence highlighting key lessons learned during the pandemic to promote learning for all during school closure and provides actionable policy recommendations on how to bridge the digital divide and build resilient education systems in Europe and Central Asia.

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