This article was originally posted on the Small Business Association for International Companies (SBAIC) website and disseminated in the August 2019 Newsletter. 

Trafficking in persons is a form of modern slavery—a crime that affects victims of all ages, ethnicities, genders, and countries of origin. At EnCompass, a women-owned small business founded in 1999, we support evidence-based learning and capacity strengthening in support of sustainable development. This includes activities that support protections for women and children, who are especially vulnerable to human trafficking and other threats to their ability to live full and productive lives.

EnCompass and its partner, Social Impact, are working with the U.S. State Department, to assess the performance of Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnerships in several countries, including Peru and the Philippines. CPC Partnerships are bilateral commitments between the United States and country governments, “aimed at strengthening the country’s efforts to effectively prosecute and convict child traffickers, to provide comprehensive trauma-informed care for child victims of these crimes, and to prevent child trafficking in all its forms.”

Each CPC Partnership is developed with an understanding of the country’s unique drivers and structural issues, which require customized approaches to combat child trafficking and child labor. Similarly, evaluation of these partnerships needs to incorporate a full understanding of country-level contexts. EnCompass’ organizational philosophy and evaluation approaches ensure that our team considers the complexity of each country’s environment. Encompass engages the client and CPC partners in a collaborative design process that lends rigor to evaluation questions, methodologies, and data collection, and enables rich analysis and synthesis of findings that provides key stakeholders with actionable recommendations. These efforts boost the likelihood that the State Department, its implementing partners, and country governments will be able to act on findings for these and future partnerships to improve protections for children and their communities. For example, a goal of the U.S.-Philippines CPC Partnership is to reduce trafficking in the digital space by improving investigation and prosecution processes in cases of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC). Whereas the U.S.-Peru partnership includes a focus on “community-based mechanisms” to prevent future cases of child trafficking. The Philippines CPC assessment team identified data disaggregation gaps for OSEC cases, a need for better capacity to support victims at multiple levels of the system (including local case managers), and recommended targeted adaptations to meet these and other challenges.

In Peru, the assessment findings pointed to gaps in awareness of the crime of child trafficking across sectors and geographies, and the need to build knowledge of anti-trafficking regulations and protocols and empower appropriate jurisdictions at multiple levels of the response system. This evaluative work is providing a base of evidence that will enable measurement of change in anti-trafficking and child protection services, thereby helping the State Department and country governments to understand the effects of each CPC Partnership and adapt country-level responses. Ultimately, this work contributes to a global body of knowledge about how to design and adapt intergovernmental partnerships to keep children safe.

EnCompass has been a small business partner to the U.S. government and other country governments, the United Nations, nonprofit organizations, and corporations around the globe since 1999. We offer innovative approaches in evaluation, learning, leadership development, capacity strengthening, and multisectoral technical assistance. As a thought leader in global health, gender equality and inclusive development, human rights, and other sectors, we bring an inclusive, whole-systems, and strengths-based philosophy tailored to our clients’ and partners’ needs for evidence and learning. In 2018, EnCompass was among 18 organizations that endorsed the recommendations of the Gender 360 Summit—a call to action for the global development community and a tool for integrating inclusive thinking in programs. The recommendations include legal and programmatic actions to empower children by protecting them from exploitation and responding to human trafficking.

Photo credit: hands up by Randy Pagatpatan (CC BY-ND 2.0)