Last week, UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) released The State of the World’s Children, a guide that presents the most recent key statistics on survival, development and protection of the world’s 2.2 billion children. The report, ‘Every Child Counts’ aimed to reveal disparities and advance children’s rights, while focusing on the importance of data and measurement in supporting advocacy and action.
Some data taken from The State of the World’s Children has shown tremendous progress made during the past few decades:
- About 90 million children who would have died if mortality rates had stuck at their 1990 level have, instead, lived past the age of 5.
- Deaths from measles among children under 5 years of age fell from 482,000 in 2000 to 86,000 in 2012, thanks in large part to immunization coverage, which increased from 16% in 1980 to 84% in 2012.
- Improvements in nutrition have led to a 37% drop in stunting (a medical condition caused by insufficient nutritional intake) since 1990.
- Primary school enrollment has increased, even in the least developed countries: Whereas in 1990 only 53% of children in those countries gained school admission, by 2011 the rate had improved to 81%.
- Nearly 1.9 billion people have gained access to improved sanitation since 1990.
But the statistics also bear witness to ongoing disparities and violations of children’s rights:
- Some 6.6 million children under 5 years of age died in 2012, mostly from preventable causes, their fundamental right to survive and develop unrealized.
- 15% of the world’s children engage in child labor that compromises their right to protection from economic exploitation and infringes on their right to learn and play.
- 11% of girls are married before they turn 15, jeopardizing their rights to health, education and protection.
- The right to freedom from cruel and degrading punishment is violated whenever children are subjected to violent discipline at home or in school.
- About 18,000 children under five years old still die every day.
Dates to watch: On the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in November 2014, and the culmination of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, world leaders will celebrate the progress made for children and recommit to making an impact for those children whose rights are not yet fulfilled.