KIND Works to Prevent Gender-based Violence: A Root Cause of Child Migration

March 15, 2023

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), over 50 percent of the world’s more than 100 million refugees and internally displaced persons are women and girls. One in five women refugees experience sexual violence. Across the world, gender-based violence is a primary driver that forces girls and women to flee their homes and search for safety across borders.  

Gender-based violence is pervasive in Central America. Widespread gang violence, sexual abuse, human trafficking, child abuse, and domestic violence, combined with a lack of access to protection and justice, is one of the root causes of migration among children and women from this region to the United States, as noted in the Biden Administration’s Strategy for Addressing the Root Causes of Migration. 

As children, women, and families migrate across borders, they become even more vulnerable to gender-based violence and remain vulnerable once they reach their destinations.  

Many of the unaccompanied children KIND serves have fled gender-based violence in their country of origin and/or experienced gender-based violence during their migration journey. As documented in KIND’s 2021 report, Dual Crises: Gender-Based Violence and Inequality Facing Children and Women During the COVID-19 Pandemic in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a dramatic increase in gender-based violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Given this rise in violence, protecting children, women, and other vulnerable populations is more urgent than ever before.   

Addressing and preventing gender-based violence is central to KIND’s work across the globe protecting migrant children. Through our Gender and Migration Initiative, KIND collaborates with local partner organizations in Guatemala and Honduras to design and implement culturally responsive, on-the-ground gender-based violence prevention programming for children and adolescents in high-migration areas. We also strengthen local support systems for children affected by violence. Together with our partners, we have also supported educational outreach on gender equality and gender-based violence prevention via local radio and social media and provided in-person and virtual trainings to engage children, youth, teachers, community leaders, and caretakers on gender-based violence and how to prevent it. In addition to helping build the capacity of local partner organizations to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, the Gender and Migration Initiative empowers adolescent girls to foster positive relationships and pursue educational and employment opportunities.  

KIND also educates the public about and urges lawmakers to address gender-based violence and its impact on children. We were pleased to see that the 2021 U.S. National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, and the 2022 U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally include many of our recommendations.  

Eliminating gender-based violence is essential to address the root causes of migration from Central America and create a world that is safe for all children and women. KIND is committed to continuing its work in this area as part of its broader mission of protecting the rights and well-being of children.