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Susan Bissell

Biography

Susan Bissell photo

A native of Canada, Susan first served UNICEF in 1987, in New York, in what was then called the Division of Information and Public Affairs. Thereafter she returned to the University of Toronto to complete a Master's degree in law, economics and international relations. Susan then resumed her work at UNICEF, in the Sri Lanka country office, focused on children in especially difficult circumstances (CEDC). From there Susan moved to Bangladesh and maintained her CEDC concentration, positioning UNICEF particularly on child labour at a time when it was attracting considerable international attention.

In 1997, Susan again commenced academic work, in a doctoral degree in public health and medical anthropology at the WHO Key Center for Women's Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Melbourne. While completing her doctorate, Susan also worked with Trudie Styler and the Bangladeshi film team Catherine and Tareque Masud to produce the documentary "A Kind of Childhood." The film screened widely at film festivals in North America, Europe, and Asia, and appeared on Canadian, American, and British television. In 2005, it had a second screening at the London Human Rights Watch Film Festival.

Susan came back to UNICEF in 2001 as the Chief of Child Protection in India. In 2004, she transferred to the Innocenti Research Center, where she led a research unit and a number of studies. These included a 62- country study on the implementation of the general measures of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and global research on the Palermo Protocol and child trafficking. Susan was also a member of the Editorial Board of the report of the UN Secretary General's Study on Violence Against Children, which was released in 2006.

In 2009, Susan was appointed to her current position in New York, heading all of UNICEF's Child Protection work. She oversees a team of professionals guiding efforts for children affected by armed conflict, child protection systems strengthening to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against children, and a range of other matters. UNICEF is active in child protection in 170 countries, and the New York team offers leadership, strategic vision, and technical support.

Susan was recently awarded an honourary Professorship at Barnard College/Columbia University. She also received the Dr. Jean Mayar Global Citizenship Award from Tufts University in 2012 and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. Susan was honoured to accept these on behalf of her UNICEF Child Protection colleagues around the world.

 

Abstract

Violence against children knows no boundaries. Increasingly, data shows that in a variety of settings and cultures children cultures are affected. Girls and boys experience violence differently, in different contexts, across the life cycle. Children living with disabilities suffer disproportional violence, and of course children already 'living in the margins' of their societies, for whatever reasons, are particularly impacted.

This presentation will touch briefly on the current data on violence against children, underscoring its scope and global nature. I will then discuss strategies that 'work" to prevent and respond to violence. Indeed there are systems and approaches to protecting children from violence that have proven to be effective, though in few cases have been taken to scale. At the same time, there are well designed, child sensitive remedies for those who have experienced violence, and the oftentimes relates abuse, exploitation and neglect.

Finally, the paper will look at UNICEF as an organization trying to 'center' the protection of children form violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect on the global stage. From engagement with the academy, to public private partnerships, and political engagement vis. advocacy, the post 2015 agenda and beyond.

 

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