Early Childhood and Peace

Published October 1, 2013 – by Lisa Jordan

Dr Pia Britto has been in post for only six months as Senior Adviser in the Early Childhood Development Unit at UNICEF, and she is already shaking up the field. Last Friday she brought together early childhood advocates and peace advocates to launch the Early Childhood Peace Consortium.

I am thrilled with this initiative, for two reasons.

Firstly, it places the goal of reducing violence in children’s lives in a wider frame which will allow more leadership and evidence to emerge on what works. As stated at the launch by UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Geeta Rao Gupta, the consortium will advocate for investments in young children as a strategy for peacebuilding.

This makes perfect sense because children can grow up to reach their full potential only in the absence of violence and fear in their lives, and children are the best ambassadors for peace because they are so compelling as advocates. Just think of Malala.

Secondly, it challenges all of us in the early childhood world to explain to a much wider audience what children need. In short, Pia has given us a chance to preach beyond the choir.

The challenge in front of us, as a joint community, is to reduce children’s exposure to violence by reducing the levels of violence within households, in communities, and among nation states, while also strengthening children’s capacity to move through and beyond violence on the occasions when they do encounter it.

Those are four different goals, all requiring different strategies. I am hopeful that the Early Childhood Peace Consortium will begin to scaffold programmes that could work in a coordinated way across all these spheres.