Category Archives: Numbers

Children in Myanmar wash their hands with soap at a hand-washing station, while other students behind them wait their turn to use latrines.

New data cast light on poor hygiene

Children in Myanmar wash their hands with soap at a hand-washing station, while other students behind them wait their turn to use latrines.

Children in Myanmar wash their hands with soap at a hand-washing station. © UNICEF/NYHQ2012-2056/Dean

This week is World Water Week. Each year, leaders and experts meet in Stockholm to discuss global challenges relating to water. This year the conference celebrates its 25th year, with a specific focus is on water for development. There will also be lots of discussion about the broad spectrum of water issues ranging from water resources and climate change to access to the most basic of drinking water and sanitation facilities. There will be some, but all too little debate about the related topic of hygiene.

Four surprising facts on hygiene

  1. Handwashing with soap is one of the most effective interventions to reduce diarrhoea and pneumonia, two leading causes of child mortality.
  2. Research studies have suggested that very few people – approximately one in five globally – wash their hands after going to the loo. Whilst these data are limited they certainly demonstrate the scale of the challenge.
  3. Last year the Guinness World record for handwashing was won when almost 13 million students washed their hands simultaneously across over 1,300 schools in Madhya Pradesh, India.
  4. Menstrual hygiene remains a taboo in many settings – with poor knowledge and misconceptions as great a challenge as access to adequate facilities at home as well as at school. Learn more about menstrual hygiene and its impacts on women and girls in the Menstrual Hygiene Matters report.

It also happens to be the 25th anniversary of the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation, whose report at the end of the Millennium Development Goals showed that 663 million people still lack an improved source of drinking water and 2.4 billion lack an improved sanitation facility.The ability to track progress on drinking water and sanitation during the last twenty-five years has helped to draw attention to people without basic services and to highlight persistent inequalities both between and within countries. Until recently, far less attention had been given to hygiene, which unlike water and sanitation, was not part of the Millennium Development Goals and has not been systematically tracked at the global level.

An adolescent girl takes part in an handwashing demonstration for a group of adolescent girls in Chowrapara, Rangpur, Bangladesh.

An adolescent girl takes part in an handwashing demonstration for a group of adolescent girls in Chowrapara, Rangpur, Bangladesh. © UNICEF/BANA2014-01296/Paul

Of the range of hygiene behaviours considered important for health, handwashing with soap is a top priority in all settings. Handwashing with soap is one of the most effective interventions to reduce diarrhoea and pneumonia, two leading causes of child mortality. But handwashing behaviours are tricky to measure – people know the “right” answer and are very likely to tell you it if you ask them directly. For that reason, the most practical approach leading to reliable measurement of handwashing is observation of the place where hands are washed and noting the presence of water and soap at that location. This lets you know whether households have the necessary tools for handwashing and provides a proxy for their behaviour. Learn more by reading the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program working paper: Practical Guidance for Measuring Handwashing Behavior.

The data for over 50 countries show consistently low levels of access to handwashing facilities in many countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa but also Southern Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. For example, in the Democratic Republic of Congo fewer than one in ten people have access to a facility. In countries with higher coverage overall, such as Mongolia – the poorest are greatly disadvantaged: only one in ten have access compared with almost all of those in the wealthiest quintile (96%). Similarly, people living in rural areas are less likely to have access to handwashing facilities – as is the case in Afghanistan where they are only half as likely as people in urban areas. Explore the available handwashing data for yourself using the interactive dashboard on handwashing.

The great news is that hygiene is part of the new Sustainable Development Goals and is specifically mentioned together with sanitation in Target 6.2 which by 2030 seeks to ‘achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations’. UN member states still need to select an indicator for handwashing to track progress and ensure these ambitions are properly reflected.And you can join the Global Public-Private Partnership for handwashing campaign to advocate for a handwashing SDG indicator. Over the next few years, data will then continue to be collected in household surveys such as the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys and Demographic and Health Surveys and it will become possible to tell whether and how much the situation has improved. The data will also tell us whether the international community is giving hygiene the attention it most surely deserves.

Explore the interactive dashboard on handwashing:

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Robert Bain is a Statistical Specialist focusing on water, sanitation and hygiene in UNICEF’s Data and Analytics Section in New York.

mapa innovación

La innovación se sale del mapa

  • Unicef utiliza la tecnología móvil para mejorar la vida de los niños. En todo el mundo existen ahora unos 270 proyectos en desarrollo
Map created by  unicefinnovation

Map created by unicefinnovation

Mapa

En un mapa interactivo que se actualiza casi a diario, Unicef da cuenta de cómo aprovechan la tecnología móvil y el uso de la información en tiempo real para mejorar la vida de los niños en todo el mundo. A día de hoy se desarrollan 270 proyectos y hay muchos más en fase piloto o incluso tomando forma en la cabeza de sus creadores. Casi siempre hay un teléfono móvil muy básico implicado y un tráfico de datos más lento de lo que toleraríamos en los países desarrollados, pero estas herramientas, usadas con altas dosis de creatividad, son suficientes para solucionar problemas de salud, educación, infraestructuras, logística o educación.

La clave es facilitar el acceso de información a las poblaciones vulnerables que de esa manera podrán tomar las mejores decisiones sobre asuntos claves para su supervivencia.

Veamos algunos ejemplos:

  1. Uganda

UReport es un sistema de intercambio de información en tiempo real por SMS que tiene como objetivo mejorar la comunicación entre los líderes de las comunidades y sus miembros más jóvenes. La meta es implicar y comprometer a la juventud para conseguir cambios positivos en el entorno de la comunidad. La red, creada en mayo de 2011 ha crecido rápidamente y ya cuenta con 250.000 miembros activos.

  1. Kosovo

El mundo se ve diferente y mucho más claro cuando lo tienes dibujado en un mapa. Es por ello que la técnica de mapeo se emplea para hacer visibles y comprensibles aquellas partes de la realidad que han permanecido ocultas o que son difíciles de entender. En Kosovo se ha conseguido trazar las rutas de los microbuses públicos de Prístina con una tecnología de código abierto que recolecta los datos de los GPS de 16 líneas de autobuses. El proyecto, que se inició en enero de 2012, es el primer experimento para digitalizar la red de transporte público en todos los municipios de Kosovo.

  1. Zambia

La habilidad que los jóvenes y adolescentes han desarrollado para buscar y encontrar todo tipo de consejos, recomendaciones y tutoriales en Internet ha sido aprovechada para crear un servicio de consejería de VIH y otras enfermedades de trasmisión sexual que está activo las 24 horas de todos los días del año. El servicio funciona a través de la aplicación UReport, creada en la Unidad de Innovación de Unicef, y las recomendaciones se envían por SMS para alcanzar a todos los jóvenes que no tienen tarifa de datos en su teléfono ni dinero para conectarse a Internet en un cibercafé.

  1. Sudán del Sur, Uganda y Filipinas

Con el sistema RapidFTR (Rapid Family Tracing and Reunification) se ha facilitado el trabajo de las organizaciones humanitarias en lugares de desastre, pues esta app ayuda a encontrar con celeridad a los niños que han sido separados de sus familias. La aplicación móvil de código abierto registra información clave sobre la identidad de los niños, incluyendo una foto. Los datos se comparten en una base de datos central a la que tienen acceso todos los familiares con niños perdidos. Antes de RapidFTR esta información se obtenía rellenando varios cuestionarios en papel que consumían el doble de tiempo y reducían a la mitad las probabilidades de encontrar a los desaparecidos. Esta aplicación se empleó primero en los campos de refugiados de Uganda, luego en la crisis de desplazados de 2013 de Sudán del Sur y en Filipinas tras el paso del tifón Yolanda.

  1. Uganda

Unicef ha metido en una maleta portátil todo un equipo multimedia cuya batería funciona con energía solar. Se llama MobiStation y viaja por escuelas, centros de salud y comunidades para distribuir información de calidad en diversos formatos. Dentro de este equipaje viajan comprimidos un ordenador portátil, un proyector, una cámara, un micrófono y otros accesorios que sirven de apoyo a la enseñanza en países en los que las escuelas rurales sufren de falta de libros de texto y altas tasas de absentismo de los profesores, y donde encontrar un enchufe para cargar una batería o una conexión a Internet es casi un milagro.

  1. Zambia

Hasta hace muy poco se necesitaban 66 días para mandar un documento desde el noreste de Zambia a la capital, Lusaka. El Proyecto Mwana, que emplea la app RapidSMS, ha reducido ese tiempo a cero enviando y recibiendo los datos por SMS. Dichos datos eran a veces cuestión de vida o muerte, sobre todo si se trataba del resultado de un test de VIH que se enviaba desde un laboratorio a una comunidad rural. Gracias al Proyecto Mwana se ha incrementado el número de madres que reciben el diagnóstico de sus hijos casi en tiempo real. Además, se ha incrementado el número de nacimientos registrados en el país y el seguimiento sanitario de los bebés. Esta herramienta se va a aplicar a todo el sistema sanitario de Zambia.

  1. Burundi

Solo un 3% de la población de Burundi tiene acceso al servicio eléctrico, que está concentrado en las zonas urbanas, y la mayoría usa como fuentes primarias de energía opciones peligrosas como el carbón, la madera o el queroseno. El Proyecto Lumiere funciona como un laboratorio para experimentar con fuentes de energía más seguras y rápidas que puedan ser instaladas en zonas aisladas del país. Uno de ellos es un generador de electricidad a pedales capaz de cargar cinco focos LED en veinte minutos. Otro proyectos son las luces portátiles LED Nuru.

  1. Líbano

La unidad de investigación de Unicef busca métodos novedosos para que los niños desplazados de Líbano no abandonen sus estudios. El proyecto Pi4 Learning Program diseñado para ordenadores muy básicos pero también para ser usado sin Internet en una versión optimizada, permite impartir contenidos a alumnos de Primaria y Secundaria que han tenido que interrumpir su Educación para irse a los campos de refugiados.

  1. Brasil

Unicef Brasil se ha asociado con una empresa local de videojuegos en un proyecto diseñado por los estudiantes de la Universidad de Sao Paulo que combina fútbol, tecnología digital e innovación. Su propósito es alfabetizar a los niños de las regiones más deprimidas del país. El perfil del niño candidato a educarse con esta herramienta es un chaval de entre seis y ocho años que viva en las regiones del noreste de Brasil, donde hay pocos recursos educativos.

 

Karelia Vázquez Torres es periodista de El País Semanal

Este artículo fue posteado originalmente en el blog Planeta Futuro

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A child holds a package of ready-to-use therapeutic food at a malnutrition centre in Bangui Paediatric Hospital in Bangui, the capital. A woman sits with another small child on the next cot. The ready-to-use therapeutic food – a high-protein, high-energy, peanut-based, packaged paste for malnourished children – requires no cooking or handling. UNICEF is providing essential drugs, emergency health supplies, and other medical and nutrition support at the hospital, which is the only children’s hospital in the country. In mid-December 2013 in the Central African Republic, children and families continue to face violence and insecurity as a result of the escalating humanitarian crisis. Renewed fighting has displaced more than 500,000 people and has worsened living conditions in the country – already among the world’s poorest, with some of the lowest socio-economic indicators, despite its economic potential and a wealth of natural resources. Half of the country’s 4.6 million people are in need of assistance, and 1.1 million people are food-insecure. Hundreds of people, including children, have been killed in the fighting, and children are being attacked and recruited into armed groups. Despite the volatile situation, UNICEF continues to support critical services for displaced families in conflict-affected areas of the country, including in Bangui, the capital. UNICEF is providing plastic sheeting, blankets, mosquito nets, medicine, health and midwifery kits, hygiene kits and soap, water purification supplies, and jerrycans and is supporting ongoing health, immunization, nutrition, water sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education and child protection interventions, safe educational and recreational spaces for children, as part of efforts to address the trauma they have experienced as a result of the conflict. UNICEF is requesting US $31.9 million (revised from US$11.5 million) as part of a United Nations Consolidated Appeal for US $195.1 million to meet urgent needs. By 9 December, UNICEF still faced a US $16 million funding gap.

Malnutrition in Central African Republic: 5 things we’ve learnt

As the crisis in CAR wore on through a violent 2014, nutrition experts began to worry. They knew that the majority of families were unable to plant their crops or earn their living, and that the price of essential foods like rice had increased by as much as 25%. Displaced families had poor access to safe water and sanitation, and one-third of health centers had been destroyed.

Questions were quickly asked: How many children were severely malnourished and needed services? What remote areas were most affected by malnutrition? To answer these questions, we needed data (a big ask in a country where roads – where they exist – are blocked by armed barricades and cut off by fighting).

NYHQ2013-1289

There were major concerns about the rate of severe malnutrition after two years of violence in CAR. (c)UNICEFCAR/2014/Terdjman

To get this data, we carried out a SMART survey – a simplified field survey designed to give a snapshot of the situation on the ground. From July to November last year, 120 data collectors went inside nearly 9,500 houses to weigh and measure children under five and talk to their families. They surveyors wanted to find out both the level of malnutrition in each of CAR’s 16 prefectures as well as the rate of deaths and coverage of measles vaccinations.

Here’s what they found:

  1. Stunting is beyond the emergency threshold of 40% in seven of the 16 prefectures and in the capital Bangui. This is a major problem because stunting is irreversible and can have a huge impact on the development of a nation. A stunted child is not only too short for his or her age, they can also suffer from stunted development of the brain and cognitive capacity – undermining their performance at school and future earning potential.
  2. Rates of severe malnutrition aren’t as bad as we feared. However, seven prefectures have more than 2 per cent of children who are severely malnourished compared to only two prefectures in 2012. These children need improved access to nutrition services to safeguard their lives and future health.
  3. The crisis has been a killer. Overall mortality is above emergency levels* in 11 out of the 16 prefectures as well as in Bangui – a significant increase since 2012. Armed conflict increased the death rate of adults in volatile areas. Meanwhile, for children under-5 the biggest killers were not bullets but instead malaria, respiratory infections, and diarrhoea. Little bodies weakened by malnutrition struggle to fight off diseases; and the combination of malnutrition and childhood illnesses is often deadly, especially in areas where clinics were shut down due to violence.
  4. We’re making progress in re-starting routine immunisation services, but children in the hardest-to-reach areas are missing out. While a child in the capital city Bangui has a more than 80% chance of getting vaccinations or vitamin supplements, a child in Vakaga in the far northern tip of the country, has only a 30% chance.
  5. We still need more information on the most vulnerable children. Surveyors couldn’t go to displacement sites, or to the bush where people have fled violence or into enclaves where minority populations are besieged by armed groups. A second SMART survey in March this year will produce data on the situation of children living in these precarious locations.

* Emergency levels are defined as two deaths per day for every 10,000 people

The SMART survey was carried out by UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Planning and the Central African Institute of Statistics, Economic and Social Studies.

A child holds a package of ready-to-use therapeutic food at a malnutrition centre in Bangui Paediatric Hospital in Bangui, the capital. A woman sits with another small child on the next cot. The ready-to-use therapeutic food – a high-protein, high-energy, peanut-based, packaged paste for malnourished children – requires no cooking or handling. UNICEF is providing essential drugs, emergency health supplies, and other medical and nutrition support at the hospital, which is the only children’s hospital in the country. In mid-December 2013 in the Central African Republic, children and families continue to face violence and insecurity as a result of the escalating humanitarian crisis. Renewed fighting has displaced more than 500,000 people and has worsened living conditions in the country – already among the world’s poorest, with some of the lowest socio-economic indicators, despite its economic potential and a wealth of natural resources. Half of the country’s 4.6 million people are in need of assistance, and 1.1 million people are food-insecure. Hundreds of people, including children, have been killed in the fighting, and children are being attacked and recruited into armed groups. Despite the volatile situation, UNICEF continues to support critical services for displaced families in conflict-affected areas of the country, including in Bangui, the capital. UNICEF is providing plastic sheeting, blankets, mosquito nets, medicine, health and midwifery kits, hygiene kits and soap, water purification supplies, and jerrycans and is supporting ongoing health, immunization, nutrition, water sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education and child protection interventions, safe educational and recreational spaces for children, as part of efforts to address the trauma they have experienced as a result of the conflict. UNICEF is requesting US $31.9 million (revised from US$11.5 million) as part of a United Nations Consolidated Appeal for US $195.1 million to meet urgent needs. By 9 December, UNICEF still faced a US $16 million funding gap.

Malnutrition en République centrafricaine : les 5 choses que nous avons apprises

Alors que la République centrafricaine plongeait dans la violence en 2014, les experts en nutrition ont commencé à s’inquiéter. Ils savaient que la majorité des familles n’avaient pas pu planter leurs cultures et ne pouvaient pas gagner leur vie, et que le prix des produits alimentaires essentiels comme le riz avait augmenté de jusqu’à 25 %. Les familles déplacées n’avaient qu’un accès limité à de l’eau salubre et à des moyens d’assainissement, et un tiers des centres de santé avaient été détruits.

Des questions se sont rapidement posées : combien d’enfants souffraient-ils de malnutrition sévère et avaient besoin de services ? Quelles étaient les régions éloignées souffrant le plus de la malnutrition ? Pour répondre à ces questions, nous avions besoin de données (un gros point d’interrogation dans un pays où les routes – là où elles existent – sont bloquées par des barrages tenus par des hommes armés et coupées par les combats).

Suite à deux ans de violence en Centrafrique, l'UNICEF a procédé à une enquête  de terrain simplifiée conçue pour obtenir un instantané de la situation nutritionnelle des enfants dans le pays.

Suite à deux ans de violence en Centrafrique, l’UNICEF a procédé à une enquête de terrain simplifiée conçue pour obtenir un instantané de la situation nutritionnelle des enfants dans le pays. (c)UNICEFCAR/2014/Terdjman

Pour obtenir ces données, nous avons procédé à une enquête SMART (enquête à indicateurs Spécifiques, Mesurables, Réalisables, Attribuables, Pertinents, Réalistes, Limités dans le temps, Opportuns, Faciles à suivre et Ciblés) – une enquête de terrain simplifiée conçue pour obtenir un instantané de la situation qui prévalait dans le pays. De juillet à novembre derniers, 120 enquêteurs sont entrés dans près de 9 500 domiciles pour peser et mesurer les enfants de moins de 5 ans et pour parler à leur famille. Les enquêteurs voulaient découvrir quel était le niveau de malnutrition dans chacune de 16 préfectures de la République centrafricaine, ainsi que le taux de mortalité et l’étendue de la couverture vaccinale contre la rougeole.

Voici ce qu’ils ont trouvé :

  1. Les retards de croissance ont dépassé le seuil d’urgence de 40 % dans sept des 16 préfectures et dans la capitale Bangui. Il s’agit d’un problème majeur car les retards de croissance sont irréversibles et peuvent avoir des conséquences considérables pour le développement d’un pays. Un enfant souffrant de retard de croissance n’est pas seulement trop petit pour son âge, il peut aussi être victime d’un retard de développement du cerveau et de ses capacités cognitives – ce qui compromet ses résultats scolaires et ses revenus d’emploi potentiels pour l’avenir.
  2. Les taux de malnutrition sévères n’étaient pas aussi graves que nous le redoutions. Cependant, sept préfectures comptent plus de 2 % d’enfants souffrant de malnutrition sévère par comparaison avec seulement 2 préfectures en 2012. Ces enfants ont besoin d’un accès amélioré à des services nutritionnels pour protéger leur vie et préserver leur santé future.
  3. Cette crise a eu des conséquences mortelles. La mortalité globale dépasse le seuil d’urgence* dans 11 des 16 préfectures comme à Bangui – une augmentation notable depuis 2012. Le conflit armé à fait augmenter le taux de mortalité des adultes dans les zones d’instabilité, alors que pour les enfants de moins de cinq ans, les plus importantes causes de mortalité n’ont pas été les balles, mais le paludisme, les infections des voies respiratoires et la diarrhée. De petits corps affaiblis par la malnutrition ont de la peine à combattre les maladies, et la combinaison de la malnutrition et des maladies infantiles est souvent mortelle, surtout dans les zones où les centres de santé ont été fermés en raison des violences.
  4. Nous faisons des progrès pour faire redémarrer les services de vaccination de routine, mais les enfants des régions les plus difficiles à atteindre en sont encore privés. Alors qu’un enfant vivant à Bangui, la capitale, a plus de 80 % de chances d’être vacciné ou d’obtenir des suppléments de vitamines, un enfant vivant à Vakaga, à l’extrémité nord du pays, a seulement 30 % de chances dans ce domaine.
  5. Nous avons encore besoin d’informations supplémentaires sur les enfants les plus vulnérables. Les enquêteurs n’ont pas pu se rendre sur les sites de personnes déplacées ou dans la brousse où la population a fui la violence, ou dans les enclaves où des populations minoritaires sont assiégées par des groupes armés. Une deuxième enquête SMART en mars de cette année fournira des données sur la situation des enfants qui vivent dans ces endroits où la situation est extrêmement précaire.

* Les niveaux d’urgence sont définis comme deux décès par jour pour 10 000 personnes.

L’enquête SMART a été menée par l’UNICEF en partenariat avec le Ministère de la santé, le Ministère de la planification et l’Institut centrafricain des Statistiques et des Études économiques et sociales (ICASEES).

A child holds a package of ready-to-use therapeutic food at a malnutrition centre in Bangui Paediatric Hospital in Bangui, the capital. A woman sits with another small child on the next cot. The ready-to-use therapeutic food – a high-protein, high-energy, peanut-based, packaged paste for malnourished children – requires no cooking or handling. UNICEF is providing essential drugs, emergency health supplies, and other medical and nutrition support at the hospital, which is the only children’s hospital in the country. In mid-December 2013 in the Central African Republic, children and families continue to face violence and insecurity as a result of the escalating humanitarian crisis. Renewed fighting has displaced more than 500,000 people and has worsened living conditions in the country – already among the world’s poorest, with some of the lowest socio-economic indicators, despite its economic potential and a wealth of natural resources. Half of the country’s 4.6 million people are in need of assistance, and 1.1 million people are food-insecure. Hundreds of people, including children, have been killed in the fighting, and children are being attacked and recruited into armed groups. Despite the volatile situation, UNICEF continues to support critical services for displaced families in conflict-affected areas of the country, including in Bangui, the capital. UNICEF is providing plastic sheeting, blankets, mosquito nets, medicine, health and midwifery kits, hygiene kits and soap, water purification supplies, and jerrycans and is supporting ongoing health, immunization, nutrition, water sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education and child protection interventions, safe educational and recreational spaces for children, as part of efforts to address the trauma they have experienced as a result of the conflict. UNICEF is requesting US $31.9 million (revised from US$11.5 million) as part of a United Nations Consolidated Appeal for US $195.1 million to meet urgent needs. By 9 December, UNICEF still faced a US $16 million funding gap.

La malnutrición en la República Centroafricana: Cinco cosas que hemos aprendido

Ante la crisis y la violencia que tan duramente golpeó a la República Centroafricana en 2014, los expertos en nutrición empezaron a preocuparse. Ellos sabían que la mayoría de las familias no podían cultivar sus campos ni ganarse la vida, y que el precio de los alimentos esenciales, como el arroz, se había incrementado hasta en un 25%. El acceso de las familias desplazadas a agua salubre y a saneamiento era insuficiente, y un tercio de los centros de salud habían quedado destruidos.

De inmediato surgieron preguntas; por ejemplo: ¿Cuántos niños sufrían de malnutrición grave y requerían servicios? ¿Qué zonas aisladas estaban más afectadas por la malnutrición? Para poder responderlas, necesitábamos reunir datos (una tarea particularmente difícil en un país donde las carreteras –cuando existen– están bloqueadas por barricadas o interrumpidas a causa de los combates).

NYHQ2013-1289

Luego de dos años de violencia en la República Centroafricana, las tasas de malnutrición grave eran motivo de especial preocupación. (c)UNICEFCAR/2014/Terdjman

Para obtener estos datos, realizamos una encuesta SMART, una encuesta simplificada cuyo propósito es suministrar una visión global de la situación sobre el terreno. Entre julio y noviembre del año pasado, 120 personas encargadas de obtener datos visitaron casi 9.500 viviendas para pesar y medir a los niños y las niñas menores de 5 años y hablar con sus familias. Los encuestadores buscaban conocer tanto el nivel de la malnutrición en cada una de las 16 provincias de la República Centroafricana, como la tasa de mortalidad y la cobertura de la vacunación contra el sarampión.

Sus hallazgos fueron los siguientes:

  1. El retraso en el crecimiento supera el umbral de emergencia del 40%. En 7 de las 16 provincias del país, así como también en Bangui, la capital. Este es un problema de suma importancia porque es irreversible y puede repercutir adversamente en el desarrollo del país. Un niño que sufre de retraso en el crecimiento no solo es demasiado bajo para su edad; también puede presentar retraso en su desarrollo cerebral y en su capacidad cognitiva, lo que afecta su rendimiento escolar y su potencial para percibir ingresos en el futuro.
  2. Las tasas de malnutrición grave no son tan altas como temíamos. Sin embargo, en siete provincias, más del 2% de los niños sufren de malnutrición grave, en comparación con apenas dos provincias en 2012. Estos niños y niñas requieren mayor acceso a servicios de nutrición para proteger sus vidas y su futura salud.
  3. La crisis ha cobrado muchas vidas. En 11 de las 16 provincias, al igual que en Bangui, la mortalidad general supera los niveles de emergencia*, lo que representa un aumento significativo desde 2012. En las zonas inestables, la tasa de mortalidad entre los adultos se elevó debido al conflicto armado. Con respecto a los niños, las principales causas de muerte entre los menores de 5 años no fueron las balas, sino el paludismo, las infecciones respiratorias y la diarrea. Cuando la malnutrición se suma a alguna de las enfermedades de la infancia, el resultado suele ser fatal, sobre todo en las zonas donde las clínicas han tenido que cerrar a causa de la violencia.
  4. Aun cuando estamos avanzando en el restablecimiento de los servicios periódicos de vacunación, los niños que viven en las zonas de más difícil acceso están quedando excluidos. Mientras que un niño de Bangui, la capital del país, tiene una probabilidad superior al 80% de ser vacunado y recibir suplementos vitamínicos, un niño de Vakaga, en el extremo norte del país, tiene una probabilidad de apenas el 30%.
  5. Seguimos necesitando información sobre los niños y las niñas más vulnerables. Los encuestadores no pudieron ir a los emplazamientos de desplazados, a los montes donde la gente ha buscado protegerse de la violencia ni a los enclaves donde poblaciones minoritarias están siendo asediadas por grupos armados. La realización de una segunda encuesta SMART, en marzo de este año, generará datos sobre la situación de los niños que viven en estos lugares.

* Los niveles de emergencia se definen como dos muertes diarias por cada 10.000 personas.

La encuesta SMART fue realizada por UNICEF, en asociación con el Ministerio de Salud, el Ministerio de Planificación, y el Instituto Centroafricano de Estadística, Economía y Estudios Sociales.

PFPG2014P-0877

Data is critical to achieving universal primary and secondary education

PFPG2014P-0877

In Niger, children learn at the Seno’s Franco-Arabic School, the only school in the area that offers students the choice of learning in a traditional French-speaking school or in a Franco-Arabic. Data shows that language can be a main barrier to education – when teaching and learning materials are in a language other than the mother tongue, many children stop going to school. © UNICEF/PFPG2014P-0877/Lynch

It is time for a dose of pragmatism: 121 million children and young adolescents are out of school and we do not stand a chance of reaching them by continuing to pursue a one-size-fits-all approach to education.

The optimism of ‘build more schools and they shall come’ will not reach refugees, children who work, children who face discrimination based on gender, ethnicity or disability. Even worse, building more schools will not help the estimated 130 million children who fail to learn basic reading and math skills despite reaching Grade 4.

Simply expanding educational systems has clearly failed to reach all children. As the international community works to establish new development goals, it will be imperative to focus on the children who were left behind.

UNESCO-OOSC-Cover-full.indd

We believe that robust data on out-of-school children can help.
A new report from UNICEF and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) demonstrates how the latest data and policy analysis can help us move forward. The report, Fixing the Broken Promise of Education for All: Findings from the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children, draws on data from 26 country studies and seven regional studies. Funded by the Global Partnership for Education, it serves as a roadmap to improve the data, research and policies that are needed to reach the most marginalized children.

What data tell us
Data can tell us who the out-of-school children are, where they live, and why they are excluded. Data also enable us to develop and evaluate policies designed to reach excluded children. A new data exploration tool that accompanies the report presents a nuanced picture of out-of-school children around the world and pinpoints the critical factors that drive exclusion. It also shows the ways in which data can be used for effective policymaking, especially when resources are scarce.

The way forward
As the world embarks on a new development agenda, we must invest in better data so we can more effectively reach out-of-school children. Experience from the Global Initiative on Out-School-Children shows some important first steps.

Delve deeper into existing data sources
Administrative data collected by education ministries can be used to determine where and when students start school late or drop out. Household surveys are another rich source. And adding education questions to these surveys would throw brighter light on the most marginalized children. Indeed, information from these sources can unlock valuable insights for policymakers.

Invest in collecting data on vulnerable groups
If we do not target data collection, vulnerable groups will continue to be overlooked. For example, the initiative on out-of-school children has collected detailed data on children who were living in shelters or on the streets in conflict-affected provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The survey was a first step towards developing and implementing effective education policies to provide educational opportunities for these children.

Similarly, in Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, a new system has been put in place to monitor children with disabilities – children who are often overlooked by education policies.

Use new technologies to identify and reach at-risk children
Improving links between different national data sources can improve the monitoring of children as they move through the education system. But to benefit truly from advances in information management systems, national and district-level authorities need greater support and training.

And finally, it is critical to increase financial and technical support to national statistical offices and education ministries. Better data and more innovative tools will help governments and donors spend their education budgets more wisely. But these data will also help us reach the world’s most marginalized children.

The Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children – a UNICEF and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) partnership – works in more than 50 countries to identify which children are out of school, assess the barriers of exclusion and develop innovative policies so they can go to school and learn. The Initiative is funded by the Global Partnership for Education and the World Bank.

Read the report and explore the data

Jo Bourne is the Associate Director and Global Chief of Education, Programme Division, UNICEF.
Albert Motivans is theHead of Education Statistics, UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2013-0122/Dicko

Protecting children in West and Central Africa

Hawa and her one-year-old son participated in a UNICEF-supported training session to provide psychosocial support to children from northern regions who have been displaced by fighting, Mali.

Hawa and her one-year-old son participated in a UNICEF-supported training session to provide psychosocial support to children from northern regions who have been displaced by fighting, Mali. © UNICEF/NYHQ2013-0122/Dicko

West and Central Africa (WCA) is a region faced with armed conflict, physical and sexual violence, child marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) – posing numerous threats to the protection and development of children. Amid the political instability and human rights violations, children bear the burden as they are among society’s most vulnerable segments.

Recently the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak has put children in the region at even greater risk, exposing them not only to the illness itself but also to fear, stigma and grief resulting from the loss of caregivers and loved ones.

What is the role of data when it comes to protecting children? Hard data can provide a window into the fragile state of children in the region by bringing to light the urgency of their circumstances. Numbers provide insight into the specific ecosystem in which a child is born and raised, giving us a glimpse into the factors that impacts children’s growth and development.

By painting both a detailed and comprehensive picture of the situation of children in the region, data can drive change. How so? – by informing policy makers of areas where action is most urgently needed, so that resources can be allocated accordingly. Through the sharing of knowledge gathered through research, local and national leaders can be better equipped to act effectively.

Children in the child-to -child program in Kinshasa, DRC, where 5th and 6th grade students work with 5 year olds. © UNICEF/DRCA2010-00112/Connelly

Children in the child-to -child program in Kinshasa, DRC, where 5th and 6th grade students work with 5 year olds. © UNICEF/DRCA2010-00112/Connelly

So what do the numbers tell us? In West & Central Africa:

  • Almost 9 of 10 children experience violent discipline;
  • 1 in 10 girls have experienced acts of forced sexual intercourse or other forced sexual acts;
  • 4 in 10 young women were married as children;
  • Less than 1 in 2 children were registered at birth;
  • The prevalence of female genital mutilation/cutting is over 80% in some countries;
  • Over 50% of women 15-49 years old consider a husband justified in beating his wife;
  • An estimated 7,500 children across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have lost one or both parents to the Ebola Virus Disease

Take a look at the statistical snapshot of Child Protection in West and Central Africa

Goumbo (7) stands among other children outside her school in the village of Dan Gora, Niger.

Goumbo (7) stands among other children outside her school in the village of Dan Gora, Niger. © UNICEF/NYHQ2013-0269/Dicko

The challenge of addressing these issues is exacerbated by a lack of institutionalized help accessible to children in the region. The majority of children and families in WCA live far from formal child welfare and justice services provided by the government and NGOs, while social workers are limited in number and lack the resources to enable them to do their jobs.

As a result, children rely more heavily on extended families, neighbours and traditional chiefs to prevent and respond to violence and other rights abuses.
Effective approaches to protect children need be grounded in existing community-based practices and reflect cultural and social norms.

Both governments and civil society must be included and supported to understand and strengthen such practices. Armed with this knowledge, UNICEF child protection specialists are taking a data-driven approach to determining the direction our child protection work in the region.

The current metrics tell a story of a region where children are being left behind, hindering progress towards sustainable development. Improvement will require a global commitment to lift these lives. We need to do better for the children in the West and Central Africa to take their rights to protection from paper to reality.

Miranda Eleanor Armstrong is the Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF WCA Regional office; Andrew Brooks is the Chief of Child Protection, UNICEF WCA Regional office; and Anshana Arora is with the Data & Analytics Section, UNICEF HQ New York

(c) UNICEF/John McConnico

Violence against girls and boys in Europe and Central Asia

 (c) UNICEF/John McConnico

(c) UNICEF/John McConnico

I belong to a fortunate majority. That of women who have never experienced physical or sexual violence before the age of 15. It could have gone dramatically different. Out of three women in the region where I was born, at least one has experienced physical or sexual violence in her childhood.

The data I am referring to were published earlier this year by the European Union, covering its 28 member countries.

Data comparable to the above is unfortunately not available for Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, the region where I am working with UNICEF. However, among the available information, there is some promising news. UNICEF’s global report Hidden in Plain Sight indicates that, in countries with available data, the rate of adolescent girls aged 15-19 reporting any physical violence (non-fatal) since age 15 ranged from 4 per cent in Kazakhstan to 14 per cent in Moldova. The numbers are lower than in other regions of the world.

The glass is half empty, however, when the report looks at violent child discipline. At least 50 per cent of children aged 2–14 years have experienced violent discipline at home, including both psychological aggression and physical punishment, in all countries of the region for which data is available. Rates vary widely between 74 per cent (Moldova) and 54.9 per cent (Ukraine). A higher percentage of boys experience this type of discipline.

Child marriage, forced marriage and bride abductions are currently practiced in some countries and among certain population groups, and put girls at high risk of experiencing violence in the family. Rates of officially registered marriages involving girls aged 15-19 range between 27.2 per cent (Albania) and 0.9 per cent (Kazakhstan).

 (c) UNICEF/John McConnico

(c) UNICEF/John McConnico

So, how are countries in the region dealing with violence against girls and boys?

Important legislative progress has been achieved with the criminalisation of domestic violence and banning of corporal punishment – but greater efforts are still needed to translate laws into practical measures.

Recent evidence indicates that in many countries, the absence of clear legal definitions of what constitutes physical violence contributes to perceptions that this is a justified method of disciplining children. Regulations for coordinated prevention and response to violence and protection of victims between police, prosecutors, judges, and health, education and child protection professionals, are largely absent. Services to respond to cases, particularly in rural areas, are still insufficient.

Without precise data, under-reporting of violence against boys and girls is assumed to be large across the region – a trend observed in the European Union. Lack of trust in state institutions, feelings of shame, low awareness of rights and support services, are mentioned as reasons by victims. Justice systems are not always adapted to hearing victims of violence.

Attitudes and social norms also remain a barrier. While a large majority of primary caregivers do not believe that children should be physically punished, practices may differ. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, 49.5 per cent of girls have experienced violent discipline at home, however only 13.8 per cent of caregivers believed that the child needs to be physically punished. Traditional gender norms and roles can reinforce male’s entitlements to aggressive behaviours. In Belarus, 12.4 per cent of women and 11.9 per cent of men linked domestic violence against women to stereotypical behaviours.

 (c) UNICEF/John McConnico

(c) UNICEF/John McConnico

25 November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women Say NO – UNiTE

UNICEF working to #ENDviolence

In the region, UNICEF is contributing to the global #ENDViolence initiative by being the voice for children and helping them break the silence surrounding violence. We collect data, and support monitoring capacity at national level. We also provide technical assistance to strengthen legislation and capacities in child protection systems to coordinate systemic responses to and prevention of violence against girls and boys, and help shape societal norms.

UNICEF strengthens the capacity of civil society partners to engage in independent monitoring of the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and in constructive policy dialogue with state decision-makers on how to improve identification, monitoring and responses to violence against children within the public social services.

UNICEF convenes governments, international partners, civil society and children to share experiences and get inspired through regional events and knowledge sharing platforms. The most recent of such events was hosted by the Republic of Belarus, focusing on Strengthening National Child Protection Systems to Protect Children from Neglect, Abuse, Exploitation and Violence, in Minsk, on 12-13 November 2014.

If 700 words were not enough to convince you to get involved and follow UNICEF’s work to #EndViolence against women, girls and boys in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, these children will do it in only one minute:

Check out more OneMinutesJr. videos here and here.

Elena Gaia is a Policy Analysis Specialist for Social and Economic Policy, based at the UNICEF Regional Office for CEE/CIS.

أمامنا عمل شاق: تعليم الأطفال الأكثر ضعفاً في العالم

منذ عام 2000، احتفلنا بزيادة عدد الأطفال الملتحقين بالمدارس في جميع أنحاء العالم.
ولكن الآن، يبدأ حقاً العمل الشاق.

هناك بحث جديد صدر اليوم يشير إلى أن التقدم قد توقف. وبالنظر إلى هذا الاتجاه، أخشى أننا لن نتمكن من تحقيق الهدف الإنمائي للألفية المتمثل في تعميم التعليم الابتدائي بحلول عام 2015.

A girl stands in a classroom of her primary school in Bauchi state, Nigeria.

نيلاتو (12 سنة) تذهب إلى مدرسة ابتدائية في بلدة تورو، ولاية بوتشي، بنيجيريا. تواصل نيجيريا مواجهة التحديات لضمان جودة التعليم للأطفال -وخاصة الفتيات.
© UNICEF/NYHQ2014-0710/Eseibo

لماذا حدث التباطؤ؟
نحن نعرف سبب هذا التغير في الاتجاه: فالأطفال الأكثر ضعفاً في العالم لم يحصلوا على فرص منصفة في الوصول إلى التعليم. حتى عندما يكون الأطفال في المدرسة، فإن الملايين منهم لا يكتسبون المعرفة بالقراءة والكتابة والرياضيات والمهارات الحياتية الأساسية التي يحتاجونها ليعيشوا حياة كريمة ويحصلوا على فرص عمل آمنة.

هؤلاء هم الأطفال من الأسر الأكثر فقراً. وهم الأطفال الذين دمرت منازلهم ومدارسهم بسبب الحرب أو العنف أو الكوارث الطبيعية. وهم الأطفال الذين يعانون من إعاقات تعوق حصولهم على التعليم. وهم الأطفال الذين يعيشون في القرى النائية ولا تتوافر لديهم وسائل نقل إلى أقرب مدرسة. وهم الأطفال الذين يضطرون إلى العمل لمساعدة أسرهم في توفير نفقات المعيشة.

وفي معظم الأحيان، هم من الفتيات.

بالأرقام
تظهر البيانات الصادرة حديثاً عن معهد اليونسكو للإحصاء وأحدث إصدار من التقرير العالمي لرصد التعليم للجميع أن:

  • هناك نحو 58 مليون طفل في سن المدرسة الابتدائية لا يذهبون إلى المدارس؛
  • 53 في المائة منهم من الفتيات؛
  • أكثر من 40 في المئة من الفتيات في المدرسة الثانوية في غرب ووسط أفريقيا لا يذهبن إلى المدرسة؛
  • هناك ما يقدر بنحو 250 مليون طفل في العالم لا يستطيعون القراءة أو الكتابة أو إجراء العمليات الحسابية الأساسية؛ 130 مليون طفل منهم قضوا أربع سنوات على الأقل في المدرسة؛
  • أكثر من 60 في المئة من الشباب الأميين في العالم هم من النساء.

الالتزام
العمل الشاق اللازم لزيادة التقدم المحرز يتطلب التعاون. وتقوم الشراكة العالمية للتعليم بجمع القيادات التعليمية من جميع أنحاء العالم في يومي 25 و26 يونيو/حزيران لحملة تجديد الالتزام الثانية.

سأحضر الاجتماع بصحبة المدير التنفيذي لليونيسف، أنتوني ليك. وسيقوم المدير التنفيذي بتجديد التزام اليونيسف بإعلان تعهداتها السياسة بما في ذلك:

  • إعطاء الأولوية والدعوة للتعليم في حالات الطوارئ؛
  • تحديد وتوسيع نطاق الابتكارات لتحسين الإنصاف في التعليم ونتائج التعلم للأطفال المحرومين؛
  • تركيز الجهود على توسيع نطاق تعليم البنات، مع الاهتمام بالبنات المهمشات بشكل خاص؛
  • زيادة فرص الوصول إلى التعلم المبكر الجيد لجميع الأطفال؛
  • قيادة ثورة في البيانات حول الإنصاف في التعليم.

في الميدان
تعمل الشراكة العالمية للتعليم واليونيسف بشكل وثيق لترجمة الاستراتيجية إلى عمل. وتقدم اليونيسف تخطيط وتحليل ورصد وتقييم السياسات، وتدعم أنشطة الدعوة للشراكة العالمية للتعليم. وتقوم اليونيسف بتنسيق برنامج الشراكة العالمية للتعليم وإدارته والإشراف عليه، في 40 بلداً.

في أفغانستان، على سبيل المثال، عملت اليونيسف بدعم من الشراكة العالمية للتعليم على توفير خيارات التعليم البديلة مثل مراكز التعلم السريع والمدارس المجتمعية. ووصلت البرامج إلى أكثر من 95000 طفل، معظمهم من الفتيات.

في سيراليون، البلد الهش في أعقاب صراع، أنشأت اليونيسف والشراكة العالمية للتعليم برامج المنح الدراسية للفتيات في المدارس الاعدادية حتى يصبح لديهن فرصة أفضل لاستكمال تعليمهن.

مبادرة الأطفال غير الملتحقين بالمدرسة هي وسيلة أخرى تقوم من خلالها اليونيسف والشراكة العالمية للتعليم بمد يد العون للأطفال الذين يصعب الوصول إليهم.

تقوم المبادرة -وهي شراكة بين اليونيسف ومعهد اليونسكو للإحصاء مع تمويل من الشراكة العالمية للتعليم -بجمع وتحليل البيانات التي تحدد عدد الأطفال غير الملتحقين بالمدارس. وهي تحدد أماكن الأطفال والحواجز التي تمنعهم من التعليم. وبالتعاون مع السلطات المحلية والوطنية، توصي المبادرة بإجراء استراتيجيات مستهدفة من أجل التغيير. تشمل الأمثلة بشأن الاستراتيجيات التحويلات النقدية للأسر الفقيرة، وتقديم حوافز لإرسال الفتيات إلى المدرسة، وتمكين الأطفال ذوي الإعاقة من الوصول إلى الفصول الدراسية.

المعارك القادمة
نحن نعلم أنه عندما نجلب الفرص التعليمية للأطفال في المناطق التي يصعب الوصول إليها، فإننا نكسب عدداً من المعارك: فالتعلم يتحسن، والمشاركة المجتمعية تتعزز، ويتمكن الأطفال، ولا سيما الفتيات، من ممارسة حقهم في التعليم.

وفي اعتقادي، يجب علينا القضاء على المواقف الاجتماعية الضارة والسلوكيات التي تضعف المدارس كأماكن داعمة للتعلم. وتؤكد الأدلة الناشئة أن العنف في الطريق إلى المدرسة وفي المدرسة يشكل عائقاً خطيراً أمام تعلم الفتيات. كما أن زواج الأطفال يحرم الفتيات من حقهن في التعليم. وهو أمر لا يمكن السماح به.

إن الاستثمار في تعليم الفتيات يعزز كرامتهن. كما أنه يؤتي ثماراً في التنمية. وقد أظهرت الأبحاث أنه من المرجح أن تقوم النساء المتعلمات بتأخير الزواج والولادة وتحصين أطفالهن وتحسين دخلهن المحتمل والمساهمة في ازدهار مجتمعاتهن.

وكمجتمع عالمي، إننا نقوم بإحراز تقدم. ولكن العمل الشاق اللازم للوصول إلى الأطفال الأكثر ضعفاً في العالم ما زال أمامنا. ونحن نعلم أنه يمكن القيام به. لذلك، دعونا نبدأ القيام به.

 

غيتا راو غوبتا هي نائبة المدير التنفيذي لليونيسيف للبرامج.

A girl stands in a classroom of her primary school in Bauchi state, Nigeria.

Educating the world’s most vulnerable children – hard work ahead

Since 2000, we have celebrated increases in the number of children enrolled in school worldwide. But now, the hard work really begins.

New research released today indicates that progress has stalled. Given this trend, I fear we will not achieve the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015.

A girl stands in a classroom of her primary school in Bauchi state, Nigeria.

Nailatu (12) attends primary school in the town of Toro, Bauchi State, Nigeria. Nigeria continues to face challenges in ensuring quality education for children – especially girls. © UNICEF/NYHQ2014-0710/Eseibo

Read this post in Arabic, French or Spanish

Why the slowdown?
We know the reason for the change in prognosis: The world’s most vulnerable children have not been provided equitable access to education. Even when in school, millions do not acquire the basic literacy, math and life skills they need to lead decent lives and secure jobs.

These are the children from the poorest families. They are children whose homes and schools have been destroyed by war, violence or natural disaster. They are children whose access to education is hindered by disability. They are children in remote villages with no transportation to the nearest school. They are the children who have to work to help their families make ends meet.

Most often, they are girls.

By the numbers
The newly released data from UNESCO Institute for Statistics and the most recent Education for All Global Monitoring Report show that:

  • Nearly 58 million primary school-aged children are not in school;
  • 53 per cent of them are girls;
  • More than 40 percent of secondary school-aged girls in West and Central Africa are not in school;
  • An estimated 250 million children in the world can not read, write or do basic math; 130 million of them spent at least four years in school;
  • More than 60 percent of the illiterate young people in the world are women.

Commit
The hard work required to increase progress demands cooperation. The Global Partnership for Education brings together educational leaders from around the world 25 and 26 June for its second replenishment campaign. UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake and I are attending the meeting. The Executive Director will renew UNICEF’s commitment by announcing policy pledges including:

  • Prioritize and advocate for education in emergencies;
  • Identify and scale up innovations to improve education equity and learning outcomes for disadvantaged children;
  • Focus efforts on expanding education for girls, with particular concern for marginalized girls;
  • Increase access to quality early learning opportunities for all children; and
  • Lead the data revolution on equity in education.

On the ground
The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and UNICEF work closely to translate strategy into action. UNICEF provides policy planning, analysis, monitoring and evaluation, and advocacy support for GPE. In 40 countries, UNICEF coordinates, manages and supervises GPE programmes.

In Afghanistan, for example, UNICEF has worked with support from GPE to provide alternative schooling options such as accelerated learning centres and community-based schools. The programmes have reached more than 95,000 children, most of them, girls.

In Sierra Leone, a country fragile in the aftermath of conflict, UNICEF and GPE have established scholarship programmes for girls in lower secondary school so they have a better chance to complete their education.

The Out-of-School Children Initiative is another way UNICEF and GPE have extended a hand to children who are hard to reach. The initiative – a partnership between UNICEF, UNESCO Institute for Statistics with funding from GPE – collects and analyses data that determine how many children are not in school. It identifies where the children are and the barriers that block them from attending. In cooperation with local and national authorities, the initiative recommends targeted strategies for change. Examples of strategies include cash transfers for poor families, incentives for sending girls to school, and accessible classrooms for children with disabilities.

The battles ahead
We know that when we bring educational opportunities to the hardest to reach areas, we win a number of battles: learning improves, community engagement is reinforced, and children, particularly girls, can exercise their right to an education.

It is also my belief that we must eradicate harmful social attitudes and behaviours that undermine schools as supportive places of learning. Emerging evidence confirms that violence on the way to school and in school is a serious barrier to girls’ learning. Child marriage also robs girls of their right to education. It can not be tolerated.

Investing in girls’ education bolsters their dignity. But it is also pays development dividends. Research has shown that educated women are more likely to delay marriage and childbirth, immunize their children, improve their earning potential, and contribute to the prosperity of their communities. As a global community, we are making progress. But the hard work of reaching the world’s most vulnerable children lies ahead.

We know it can be done. So, let’s get to it.

Geeta Rao Gupta is UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Programmes. She joined the organization in June 2011, and brings over 20 years of experience in international development programming, advocacy and research to UNICEF.