Information and stories addressing children.

Countries with High Rates of Child Poverty
3. Romania

After the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Romania struggled economically. Farmers were especially vulnerable, and the impact of the USSR’s collapse is evident today in the status of Romania’s children. Children in rural areas are exceptionally poor, often not receiving the nutrition needed to maintain good health. This results in many physical problems that are left untreated. Many children in rural areas are also deprived of an education.

2. The United States
Yes, you read that correctly. The United States is second place among the developed countries of the world in the percentage of children below the poverty line. This shocking number is due to the stark income equality in America. UNICEF’s research reveals that American children are more likely to fall below the poverty line than children in any other developed country due to the growing wealth gap in the United States.

1. Bulgaria
The Southern European nation of Bulgaria is the developed nation with the highest child poverty rate in the world. Plagued by increasingly low wages and high utility prices, the children of Bulgaria are suffering in families that can no longer afford to put food on the table. The unemployment rate reached 10% in the last year, inciting a wave of protests that threaten the stability of the country. Several desperate Bulgarians, unable to feed their families, have resorted to self-immolation in dramatic protest to get the government to implement changes.

– Josh Forgét

Source: The World Bank, The Washington Post, The Economist
Photo: Press TV

child-marriage
Each year, an estimated 14 million girls under the age of 18 become child brides, often marrying much older men. In the developing world, one in three girls are married before their 15th birthday, and brides may be as young as eight years old.

Children are neither physically nor emotionally prepared for marriage and child brides as their brains have not fully developed the cognitive processes required for mature behavior and thought. In addition, child brides face a greater risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth due to their small stature. They also face an increased risk of suffering domestic violence and contracting HIV/AIDS from their more sexually experienced husbands. This archaic practice unfairly stacks obstacles in front of young girls that inhibit their chances of getting an education or reaching a stable economic position.

The non-profit Girls Not Brides recognizes the urgency of addressing this issue. They understand that child marriage strips girls of their childhood, their right to health and security, and their ability to choose for themselves whom and when to marry. The practice also severely restricts girls’ educational and economic opportunities thereby trapping them in poverty.

In spite of these negative implication, child marriage remains prevalent throughout the world. 75% of women aged 20-24 in Niger been child brides, along with 72% of women in Chad, 66% in Bangladesh, and 63% in Guinea.

Tradition, cultural gender roles or the value placed on each gender, and perceived security in physical or sexual assault high-risk areas perpetuate the practice of child marriage. Poverty can also be a motivating factor as parents are able to reduce family expenses by removing a child from their home, and the income provided by a dowry is often necessary for poor families.

The High-level Panel report on post-2015 development agenda agrees that the international community will not fulfill its commitment to reduce poverty unless it puts an end to child marriage. Child marriage threatens the success of the Millennium Development Goals by inhibiting girls from having access to quality education, increasing maternal mortality, decreasing infant survival, ensuring gender equality, combating HIV/AIDS, and reducing poverty. The Panel recommends that the post-2015 development agenda include a goal to empower girls and achieve gender equality, which depends on the end of child marriage.

Education is the key to fighting child marriage. If a girl in the developing world receives at least seven years of education, on average she will marry four years later than a girl who is not afforded the same privilege. Setting up support groups can also help reduce feelings of helplessness, and empower girls to choose when to marry. The cooperation and support of men and leaders will encourage a shift in attitudes about child marriage, and the participation of young people will keep child marriage from spreading to the next generation. Other ways to end the crisis include enforcing laws that set a legal marriage age, launching incentives such as loans or conditional cash transfers, and utilizing media campaigns to raise awareness and pressure governments to take action.

– Dana Johnson

Source: Girls Not Brides,Skoll Foundation,UNICEF
Photo: Child Trafficking and Child Abuse has to Come to an End

Protecting Our Future: Save the Children
The dedicated workers of Save the Children have been affecting positive, lasting change in children’s lives for the past 81 years with no signs of slowing down. They partner with local governments and organizations in vulnerable communities to offer children support and protection from neglect, exploitation, violence, poverty, malnutrition, inferior medical care and education, and much more.

With offices spread across 120 countries, Save the Children has helped millions of children in Africa, Asia, America, the Middle East, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. In 2012 alone, they helped more than 125 million children overcome obstacles including poverty, illiteracy, obesity, and abuse.

Save the Children focuses on the following key areas:

  • Child protection – Save the Children fosters child protection programs such as child trafficking awareness campaigns, and advocates for policy and services improvement to protect children affected by disasters, conflict, or development setting.
  • Newborn and child survival – Each year, close to 7 million children die before their 5th birthday. Save the Children works to prevent senseless deaths by training health workers to deliver inexpensive medical interventions.
  • Education – Save the Children coaches educators in effective teaching techniques, offer opportunities to continue education beyond the classroom, and ensures learning continues in times of crisis.
  • Emergency response – In times of natural disaster or civil conflict, Save the Children provides food, medical care, education, and support throughout the recovery process.
  • Health and nutrition – Save the Children works to make quality maternal and reproductive healthcare, newborn and child healthcare, nutrition education, adolescent sexual and reproductive healthcare, and emergency healthcare available to impoverished communities.
  • HIV/AIDS – Save the Children offers prevention education programs to stop the spread of AIDS beyond the 3.4 million children currently living with the disease. They also offer protection programs to children orphaned by the disease.
  • Hunger and livelihoods – Save the Children’s hunger and livelihood programs focus on increasing food supply, educating farmers to produce higher yields, teaching parents the benefits of a varied diet, and teaching children how to manage money and find work.

Save the Children is recognized by regulatory services as a leader among nonprofit organizations; The American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) awarded Save the Children an A+ rating. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance has determined that Save the Children meets all of the standards for charity accountability. Charity Navigator awarded Save the Children their 11th consecutive overall 4 out of 4 stars rating in 2012. The Forbes 200 Largest U.S. Charities List rated Save the Children’s fundraising efficiency at 92%, and their charitable commitment at 91%. Great Nonprofits named them the recipient of a 2012 Top-Rated Award. And America’s Greatest Brands featured Save the Children as one of the strongest and most trusted humanitarian relief and development philanthropies.

The amazing work being done by Save the Children can be multiplied even further by charitable contributions to their Global Action Fund. To make a donation, please visit the Global Action Fund webpage.

– Dana Johnson

Source: Save the Children, Global Action Fund

Adopt an ECD
Early childhood development (ECD) is an aspect of life that kids in Africa can’t afford to take for granted. Only 43% of children under five in South Africa have access to these crucial programs either at home or in a specialized center. Exposing children to ECD programs is an important factor in their ability to grow into intelligent adults, and also plays a crucial role in lifting them out of poverty.

To change the vicious cycle of poverty, the National Development Agency is launching the Adopt an ECD campaign to allow more kids the chance to participate in early childhood development programs. The most prevalent reason children do not have access to these programs is because their families simply cannot afford them. And without early childhood development programs, most kids will grow up without the education and skills necessary to raise themselves out of poverty, thus continuing the cycle.

The Adopt an ECD campaign allows individuals and organizations to donate money, supplies, or work hours to help create more accessible programs for kids. The donations will go toward building new schools and daycare centers, buying school supplies, or renovating buildings to be more child-friendly. When individuals and businesses help contribute to the campaign, they are not only helping educate children, they’re also helping end global poverty.

Katie Brockman

Source: Mail & Guardian
Photo: World Vision

world_vision_child_health_Global_development_poverty_aid_usaid (2)_opt
Although World Vision is a Christian organization, religious preference has no bearing when it comes to the people they help. World Vision has been helping nearly 100 million poor and oppressed people fight the causes of poverty and injustice in nearly 100 countries since 1950.

Their mission is to demonstrate religious commitment and love through service to impoverished families, natural disaster survivors, exploited children, refugees, families devastated by AIDS, and so many more in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. They work towards peace, promote justice, provide for people’s daily needs, and encourage spiritual healing and transformation.

The global organization consists of over 44,000 staff members; a large percentage of which work in their home countries to reduce language and culture barriers that might inhibit progress. With such a large network of humanitarians with such a broad range of cultural and occupational backgrounds, World Vision can provide aid wherever in the world it is needed.

The amount of support World Vision receives speaks volumes to their effectiveness. They have earned the trust of nearly 3 million donors, supporters and volunteers, over 500,000 child sponsors, thousands of churches, hundreds of businesses, and government agencies around the world. This enormous amount of support is easily understood after considering the organization’s numbers; 4.2 million children have been sponsored and 1,600 communities have been served worldwide.

World Vision truly is a global humanitarian organization, providing assistance wherever it is needed, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or gender.

– Dana Johnson

Source: World Vision

Mother
Not all countries are created equally when it comes to raising children. While some countries have better opportunities for their mothers and children, including education, day care services, and early childhood development programs, others do not have proper healthcare or other resources to help keep mothers and babies healthy.

Each year, Save the Children releases the Mothers’ Index as part of their State of the World’s Mothers report. To determine the best places to be a mother, the study examines nations to judge how well their mothers and babies are cared for based on five areas: maternal health, children’s well-being, educational status, economic status, and political status.

Here are the organization’s results of the top 30 countries to be a mother:

30. United States
29. Luxembourg
28. Poland
27. Lithuania
26. Belarus
25. Israel
24. Czech Republic
23. United Kingdom
22. Canada
21. Estonia
20. Ireland
19. Greece
18. New Zealand
17. Italy
16. France
15. Singapore
14. Slovenia
13. Portugal
12. Switzerland
11. Austria
10. Australia
9. Germany
8. Belgium
7. Spain
6. Denmark
5. Netherlands
4. Iceland
3. Norway
2. Sweden
1. Finland

Many of these countries met all five standards set by Save the Children, with high expectations for the children’s school career, outstanding medical and health care for new and expecting mothers, a high per capita income level, and many job opportunities for mothers and women, particularly in leadership roles and in the government.

Katie Brockman

Source: Huffington Post

malnutrition
United Nations officials met with key country leaders at the Nutrition for Growth summit held in London last week to discuss pledged funds and political agreements in the fight against global hunger.  Millions of infants and pregnant women are at risk for stunting and deaths from malnutrition; the Nutrition for Growth summit was a key step in securing hope and help in the fight against malnutrition. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent a video message confirming the organization’s commitment to ending hunger and malnutrition in all forms worldwide.

One in four children will grow up stunted by chronic malnutrition. In today’s world, this number must be reversed. There is no reason for children to suffer from malnutrition. Commitments of funds and political support will help millions of children and boost the economies of some of the world’s most vulnerable countries. The UN is committed to do whatever it takes to see the goals reached and hunger ended.

The Nutrition for Growth summit brought together leaders from governments, the private, and non-profit sector. It was hosted by the governments from Brazil and the United Kingdom as well as the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). The event resulted in renewed commitments to continue to fight stunting and malnutrition worldwide. Funds pledged at the event exceeded $4 billion.

Stunting in children robs them of their health and their ability to grow up to be productive, contributing citizens. The summit focused on eliminating that prognosis for children. UNICEF also strengthened its desire to invest in fighting malnutrition and to continue to support programs working in over 65 countries to combat malnutrition.

Also signed at the summit was the Global Nutrition for Growth Compact which formalizes commitments to make nutrition a top political and socio-economic priority for donors and countries. It will focus on scientific knowledge, innovation to nutrition, and transparency and monitoring of results. Strong nutrition is key for individuals, nations, and economies to grow and become successful and the Nutrition for Growth summit is another step towards the elimination of global hunger and malnutrition.

– Amanda Kloeppel

Source: UN News Centre

end-child-marriage

Ending the practice of child marriage is an important step in eradicating global poverty and improving global health. Countries that have a high rate of documented child marriages also rank high in infant and maternal mortality as well as perpetual poverty. Here are some key steps to ending the practice:

  1. Transform cultural norms; In many places, child marriages are considered acceptable no matter the age or age difference between prospective spouses.
  2. Establish community-based programs; Often, the groups that are the most effective in combating such issues are already rooted in the affected communities. Such grassroots efforts, when combined with enforced national laws and policies that prohibit child marriage can greatly decrease them.
  3. Increase education; Girls who have access to education are less likely to marry early than those with minimal or no schooling. Even girls who are married, however, should be to encourage their education. This will help to make them more qualified for any economic opportunities that may come their way.
  4. Provide economic opportunity; Many girls enter into marriage at a young age because of the dowry given to their family by their prospective groom. Young women are also sometimes forced into marriage by their families when they can no longer afford to take care of them, or when it appears that the groom’s family will be able to better provide for her. Thus, practices such as micro-lending, savings clubs, and job placement programs can provide other options.

– Samantha Mauney

Source: ICRW
Photo: Sulekha

School_Meal_programs

In addition to recognizing the importance of universal access to education, policymakers have begun to recognize the importance of having meal programs in schools. The U.N. World Food Program has put together a “State of School Feeding Worldwide Report” this year that emphasizes the need to focus attention and resources on increasing the efficiency of school meal programs.

In a sample of 169 countries, all attempted to provide a meal program in some capacity. However, some of the meal programs are highly inefficient, particularly in countries where children could benefit most from receiving food at school. In low-income developing countries, only 18% of children receive consistent meals.

38 countries have expanded their meal programs in an effort to offset child malnutrition while an additional 21 have instituted meal programs since 2000. However, there is still a long way to go with only 1 in 5 children receiving a meal at school everyday, an overwhelming percentage of whom live in developing countries.

Having effective meal programs is a key step in ending poverty. Alleviating hunger allows children to take advantage of educational programs. Meal programs in school can have a huge impact on children’s physical development, health, and mental acuity. Something as small as a meal at school everyday can lead to increased productivity later in life to help end the perpetuation of poverty and hunger.

Key Facts from the State of School Feeding Worldwide Report:

  • Roughly 1 in 5 children receive a meal at school every day.
  • For every $1 spent on food programs at least $3 is received in economic benefit.
  • School meal programs are least prevalent in the poorest countries.
  • In some developing countries meal programs are more expensive than the cost of education.
  • The cost of meal programs varies greatly from country to country from as little as $56 per year up to $370 per year.
  • Assistance funding is indispensable – it accounts for 83% of investment in meal programs in low-income countries.
  • Meal programs are a key step in reducing poverty. Removing hunger allows a child to take advantage of educational opportunities.

– Zoë Meroney

Source: UN News Centre,UN World Food Program
Photo: Mission2014

kenya_girls_students_smiling_cervical_cancer_opt
Every year, approximately 275,000 women lose their lives to cervical cancer. The vast majority of these women live in developing countries where it is difficult to access the necessary healthcare, and where the ability to screen, diagnose and treat the life-threatening cancer is rarely available. However, the fight against cervical cancer in developing countries received an unprecedented boost when the GAVI Alliance announced recently that it had guaranteed a record low price of $4.50 per dose for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines.

For the first time, the GAVI Alliance will make the vaccination available to girls of a school age on a widespread scale, and at an affordable price. The GAVI Alliance has already begun their vaccination program in Kenya where cervical cancer is responsible for the deaths of more Kenyan women than any other cancer. In the past, most of the HPV vaccine programs have only been available in richer countries despite the fact that the need for these programs has always existed in developing countries. Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, said that through their partnership with WHO and UNICEF, their support for HPV vaccines is “bridging the gap between rich and poor countries, enabling HPV vaccines to reach girls no matter where they live.”

The vaccine is distributed in three doses, and since Kenya has high enrollment rates among girls, schools will become the main centers for the HPV vaccines. With the support of community health workers, the treatment will also be available to girls who are unable to attend school, and who are often at higher risk of contracting the disease.

Seven other sub-Saharan countries will also receive support from the GAVI Alliance in the near future; Ghana, Lao PDR, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone and Tanzania. The GAVI Alliance estimates that by 2020, it will have immunized more than 30 million girls in 40 countries. In these countries, where access to diagnosis and treatment is seldom available, providing a preventative vaccine is the clearly preferred option. This news provides hope to millions of girls and women in developing countries who remain at risk of contracting cervical cancer.

– Chloe Isacke
Source: GAVI Alliance,Impatient Optimists
Photo: WUSC