Benin is a West African country, bordered by Togo to the West, Nigeria to the East, Niger and Burkina Faso to the North, and the Gulf of Benin to the South. The country’s capital is Porto-Novo, and its economic center is Cotonou. The official language is French. Its population was around 9.5 million inhabitants in 2012, half of whom were under fourteen years old.
Benin has faced a difficult economic situation since 2001, due primarily to the oil market crash, the cotton crisis, and the contraband market crash. Only a diverse agricultural market allows it to remain competitive.
Defence for Children International – Benin was established in 1990. It primarily focuses on the promotion and protection of children’s rights, juvenile justice, labor conditions for minors, and violence against children. Specifically, its goals are:
- Protection of children
- Dissemination of information concerning the rights of the child
- Direct responses when violations of children`s rights take place
- Encouraging the cooperation at the national level to improve the action.
Action strategies for the national section are as follows: organisation of training, meetings, conferences, symposiums, and seminars to spread awareness of DCI’s goals, the establishment of research and studies on themes related to human rights, particularly the rights of the child, participating in briefings on themes relevant to the section, and providing legal assistance to families and children. For example, DCI – Benin organised the following activities in 2012:
- The training of women and girls on the management of finances of Wamonnon mandjèssigbè in the Vasseho community
- There was a campaign against female-directed violence in order to promote peace in Ouidah.
Through discussions focused on “the empowerment of rural women and their role in the eradication of poverty and hunger eradiation, development and current challenges,” the participants were also trained on their rights and the rights of children, on the texts of the protection of women and children with an explanation of the measures taken at the national and international level to ensure that these rights are respected.
In 2013, DCI – Benin participated in more training events, one of which was organized by the network of Francophone African Women. This event was an opportunity for capacity building of the national section in IT and project management.
DCI – Benin is primarily financed by voluntary donations and its action is possible through the work of volunteers. However, to expand its socio-legal defense centers and capacity for the protection of children, the section needs greater financial support.