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Read UNICEF Innocenti Director Sarah Cook’s foreword to our 2017 Results Report. Download the report for a full summary of our research and results last year and how they positively impact children’s lives.
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Second Global Meeting on Children on the Move: data and evidence discussion on the agenda

(30 May 2018) UNICEF Innocenti researchers Bina D’Costa and Iolanda Genovese attend the Second Global Meeting on Children on the Move in Bangkok. The gathering brings together UNICEF specialists in emergency, programming, policy, communications, advocacy, resource mobilization and partnerships, as well as data and research. The three days of mutual learning and experience sharing (30 May – 1 June) will help to identify implementation gaps and priority actions to support UNICEF’s work on migrant and refugee children, and to promote UNICEF’s Six Point Agenda for Action for Children on the Move in its global ‘UPROOTED’ Campaign.A group of children study sitting under the shade of a tentl at Markazi camp for Yemeni refugees, Djibouti. According to the UNHCR, the Markazi camp hosts around 2,000 refugees fleeing conflict in Yemen since 2015.  Bina D’Costa, Senior Migration and Displacement Research Specialist leading the Innocenti research on Children and Migration, will contribute to the second day session dedicated to data and evidence on migrant and forcibly displaced children. According to her blog about the 2018 Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID 2018)  prepared by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), “despite twenty years of global and national policy effort, since the publication of the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement in 1998, the pace of displacement is still outstripping efforts to address it.”  Out of 30.6 million new internal displacements in 2017, children represent a significant proportion, and are certainly the most vulnerable. However, major data gaps persist and data disaggregation by age and sex is crucial to paint the full picture of internal displacement and its impacts on children. More investments must be made at the national and international levels in sustainable development, peacebuilding, climate change impacts and disaster risk reduction for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, as internal displacement is directly related to all the Goals.“despite twenty years of global and national policy effort, the pace of displacement is still outstripping efforts to address it.”At the end of 2018 the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration will be convened under the auspices of the General Assembly of the United Nations. It will represent a crucial moment for all Member States and for UNICEF’s work on refugee and migrant children. At that moment child-sensitive and child-responsive research will be more important than ever to understand the dynamics of migration not captured by more general research on migration. “We need systematic analyses to understand the dynamics of child migration. Research, in particular evidence-based research, can persuade international, regional and state actors that the migration of children is a humanitarian issue not just a political issue” said D’Costa in a recent interview.South Sudanese Gedain Galwak, 8, smiles as he waits in line for the water to be turned on in the morning, in the Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Bentiu, South Sudan “Research can dispel myths and anxieties surrounding migration, and could help design strategies that are effective in resettling children. Good research can also explain to advocates for child migrants how and why certain political decisions are taken, and support the explicit integration of children’s rights and protection in the migration agenda,” D'Costa said.
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A Delicate Balance: protecting and empowering young people in South Asia

(22 May 2018) UNICEF’s latest Strategic Plan explicitly prioritises the crucial second decade: adolescence. This is a period of huge vulnerability and a great opportunity to make investments that can pay enormous dividends today as well as for future generations. However, in order for adolescents to thrive and reach their full potential, legal and policy frameworks must be improved to ensure all children’s rights are respected and protected. Adolescent girls run and play kabaddi in the playground of the Government Middle School in Badhwa, India.  A recent report, Realising an Enabling Environment for Adolescent Wellbeing: An Inventory of Laws and Policies for Adolescents in South Asia, provides an overview of these essential frameworks (through 2016) and how they relate to adolescents’ evolving capacities. The inventory, compiled by UNICEF Innocenti’s Elena Camilletti, provides a platform for policy makers and programmers to understand what has been enacted in the South Asian region. It also provides analysis of what can be further improved in order to bring legal and policy frameworks in line with international standards to ensure adolescents can fulfil their potential, make decisions and participate fully in society.With 340 million adolescents in South Asia, there are more young people living here than in any other region in the world. India alone is home to more than 250 million adolescents. This stock-taking exercise of eight South Asian countries - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - sheds light on the similarities and differences among these countries regarding the translation of international human rights law into national normative frameworks. Nine domains of child rights are examined: political rights; protection; education; health; marriage; protection from child labour; social protection; digital rights; equality and non-discrimination. Research has revealed that this transformative period offers a unique window of opportunity to influence the development and outcomes of children and young people. The delicate balance between protection and empowerment presents a challenge unique to this increasingly independent age group. Laws and policies, then, must strike a balance between protecting adolescents from vulnerabilities and risks, while recognising their growing autonomy and capacity to make responsible decisions. The study reveals that this challenge can result in incoherent legislation, including loopholes that raise concerns over the effective protection of adolescents as well as opportunities for their empowerment.Commenting on the results, Elena Camilletti observes that “grey areas are exposed throughout the analysis. In some countries and in some of the nine domains of rights examined, the policy and legal frameworks don’t clearly contradict international standards, but they also do not enable adolescents to thrive.” Laws and policies are not always enacted in a coherent and integrated way, for example discrepancies exist between the minimum age for the end of compulsory education and the minimum age for admission to employment. This is important, as the issues affecting adolescents are complex and intertwined and thus call for policy action across multiple lines. Significant exceptions in laws and policies, for example in relation to early marriage, similarly limit their effectiveness. There are examples of outright contraventions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child with some minimum age requirements lower than those prescribed.The table shows selected laws and policies, and compares these national provisions with international standards. Cells are coloured according to whether a country’s legal and policy frameworks are fully in line with international standards, including by providing specific protections for adolescents (green), partially in line with them (yellow) or clearly contravene them (red). Grey cells denote frameworks for which there are no clear requirements in international law, or for which no information was found. “Each country has made efforts to meet minimum international standards, but each country also has a lot left to do” according to Camilletti. “In particular, improvements can be made in the protective sphere, for example doing more to protect adolescents from exploitation.” She also stresses the importance of appropriate and coherent laws and policies which consider adolescent rights in their indivisible entirety.This study is a first step towards understanding the legal coverage for the protection and empowerment of adolescents in specific institutional contexts. Recognizing that implementation gaps (the effective coverage) can undermine legal protection, this report calls for future studies to explore laws and policies in practice, where the interpretation, enactment and enforcement may influence the fulfilment of rights for adolescents. Another consideration is how adolescents themselves perceive these laws. Parallel UNICEF initiatives, including Latin America and the Caribbean region’s study on legal minimum ages and the Europe and Central Asia region’s Age matters! Project conducted by Youth Policy Labs, are exploring these questions in different contexts and helping to fill evidence gaps in the area.The eight countries analysed share some cultural, political and social similarities, yet are at the same time incredibly diverse. Beyond human rights codified by international standards, the Sustainable Development Goals are an opportunity for the governments of these countries to systematically address development issues and work towards the 2030 deadline. The interests of young people are represented in many of these goals, targets, and indicators. With this in mind, national laws and policies, in addition to programmes and interventions, must be advanced to better protect and empower adolescents.
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Could families be the key to achieving the SDGs?

(18 May 2018) The family is the fundamental social unit of all modern societies. We learn to communicate, to empathise, to compromise within these small, vital social structures. The importance of the family is reflected in national public policies, such as child allowances and paternity leave, which focus on family policies as a way to improve the living standards of future generations. Thus, families, and the national policies that support them, play an important role in national efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).Former UN Secretary General in 2010 stated that “the very achievement of development goals depends on how well families are empowered to contribute to the achievement of those goals. Thus, policies focusing on improving the well-being of families are certain to benefit development.”Djénéba Diarra, her husband Mamadou Doumbia and their daughters Sitan Doumbia, 5, and Assitan Doumbia, 3 months, in Baraouéli village, Ségou Region, Mali.  Given these realities, understanding how families contribute to social progress is key to finding the most effective route to achieving the SDGs. Despite this, global data on families is lacking, prompting the UN Secretary General in 2014 to call on governments and relevant stakeholders to “support data collection and research on family issues and the impact of public policy on families and invest in family-oriented policy and programme design, implementation and evaluation.”In response, a team of family policy experts, including Dominic Richardson, UNICEF Innocenti’s Education Officer, have compiled a synthesis Report “Key Findings on Families, Family Policy and the Sustainable Development Goals” to analyse how these policies are being used to meet the SDGs. The project calls on policymakers, practitioners and the general public to act.The report summarises the evidence across six SDGs: poverty; health; education; gender equality; youth unemployment; and ending violence - all of which can be positively impacted by well-designed family-focused policies. By analyzing over 150 quality-assured family policy studies, evaluations and literature reviews, every region of the world is covered, with the sole exception of the Middle East.Promising PracticesEvidence across the six SDGs shows that family-focused interventions are often positively evaluated, with desired effects on family outcomes being achieved to varying degrees in the majority of cases across all goals. However, there is no ‘silver bullet’ in family policy or programme design. Instead, aspects of different policies are shown to be effective when designed for a specific purpose. Additionally, implementation choices impact results, including where the policies are hosted and who is involved in their application. Efficiencies in Complementary Goals Spill-over effects of policies from one SDG to another were observed. For example, well-designed family poverty interventions have positive spill-overs into education and health. This indicates opportunities for optimizing effects within and across social progress measures by integrating policy portfolios. Equally, poorly-designed policies can negatively impact the outcomes in other goal areas, highlighting the need to consider the order of interventions. For example, efforts to address employment outcomes for women will be sub-optimal whilst gender inequality in leave entitlements continue to exist.Considerations for PolicymakersThe report highlights key messages for each individual goal, as well as cross-goal considerations for policymakers and practitioners. Firstly, the review clearly shows the need for more data on the family. National and international organisations can work together to build the evidence base, and in doing so, support evidence-informed family policy, cross-sector integration, and implementation strategies.Secondly, policymakers and practitioners should recognize that, although global goals are the same, a family policy will not work in the same way in different contexts. This indicates a need for further evidence on the scalability and transfer of family policies. Comparative studies, including this report, can only provide an indication of potentially effective practices rather than a prescription for action. Finally, evidence shows that family environments can be the cause of and solution to negative social outcomes. Practitioners working with families should be conscious of the important role played by family professionals, early interventions, and family involvement in physical and mental health treatment.Father Dejan, mother Stefana, son Filip (4 years) spend time together in their home in Belgrade, Serbia.  The study highlights the importance of working for families, and with families, in order to meet the SDGs. Efficiencies in complementary goals show that even single-purpose policies can achieve multiple goals. As an elementary social unit, the progress of families will inevitably influence the progress of the societies in which they are part. Those seeking to meet the SDGs should not underestimate the role of strong families as enabling agents for achieving the SDGs. 
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New Technologies: Rich Source of Data or Ethical Minefield for Researchers?

(2018-06-22) Social media and geospatial technology offer access to huge amounts of data, but vast ethical implications are often ignored.

Administrative Data: Missed opportunity for learning and research in humanitarian emergencies?

by Elisabetta Aurino, Tilman Brück, Silvio Daidone , Luisa Natali, Benjamin Schwab
(2018-06-21) Researchers discuss the strengths and weaknesses of using administrative data collected during emergencies for research on children.