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Cooperation agreement with Istituto degli Innocenti renewed

The Istituto degli Innocenti and UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, on 22 July, formally renewed their cooperation, signing an agreement to work together for another four year period (1 January 2017 – 31 December 2020). The new agreement defines the range of activities that the two institutions will collaborate on over the coming years in order to promote recognition and observance of children's rights on the national and international levels, including joint management of the public Innocenti library.Among many features in the new agreement, a highlight is finalization of terms and conditions for the use of new office premises made available by Regione Toscana and Istituto degli Innocenti for UNICEF Innocenti. The new facilities were agreed upon in a 27 March 2012 Memorandum of Understanding. The facilities, currently under renovation, will become available for use in May 2017 and will allow UNICEF Innocenti to expand its functions both as a global research centre on children and as a convening centre. Over the next few years the Istituto and UNICEF will also collaborate to integrate within the new Museum Degli Innocenti (MUDI), exhibitions that feature displays on global children’s issues and the contributions of UNICEF to research at Innocenti. Cooperation between UNICEF and the Government of Italy at Innocenti began in 1988 when they launched an effort to establish a “new global ethic for children” in Florence. Eventually UNICEF established its international research function at the nearly 600-year-old Ospedale, an institution that can be viewed as one of the earliest efforts by secular authorities to elevate the concerns of vulnerable children to the level of civic priority. (22 July 2016)
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State of the World’s Children report highlights inequity among world’s children

Millions of children face stark disadvantages in life amid growing inequity, disadvantage and division, a new report from UNICEF shows. The State of the World’s Children, UNICEF’s annual flagship report, paints a stark picture of what is in store for the world’s poorest children if governments, donors, businesses and international organizations do not accelerate efforts to target the most disadvantaged children. Based on current trends, the world’s poorest children are twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday and to be chronically malnourished than the richest. Across much of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, children born to mothers with no education are almost three times more likely to die before they are five years old than those born to mothers with a secondary education. And girls from the poorest households are twice as likely to marry as children than girls from the wealthiest households. “Denying hundreds of millions of children a fair chance in life does more than threaten their futures – by fueling intergenerational cycles of disadvantage, it imperils the future of their societies,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “We have a choice: Invest in these children now or allow our world to become still more unequal and divided.”The report notes that significant progress has been made in saving children’s lives, getting children into school and lifting people out of poverty. Global under-five mortality rates have been more than halved since 1990, boys and girls attend primary school in equal numbers in 129 countries, and the number of people living in extreme poverty worldwide is almost half what it was in the 1990s. But progress in not even and fair, the report states.   The new edition of State of the World’s Children highlights the role that innovation and improved data analysis can play in fighting inequality. In recent years UNICEF Innocenti has developed the Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis, or MODA, approach to understanding how poverty affects children. MODA is a special methodology for analysing the multidimensional nature of child poverty. A recent report entitled Analysing Child Poverty and Deprivation in Sub Saharan Africa, reveals how up to 247 million children in 30 countries suffer from two or more deprivations including lack of sanitation and poor infant feeding. Further figures show how up 87 million children suffer from up to five deprivations including poor quality education and contaminated water.Although education plays a unique role in levelling the playing field for children, the number of children who do not attend school has increased since 2011, and a significant proportion of those who do go to school are not learning. About 124 million children today do not go to primary- and lower-secondary school, and almost 2 in 5 who do finish primary school have not learned how to read, write or do simple arithmetic.  The State of the World’s Children report points to evidence that investing in the most vulnerable children can yield immediate and long-term benefits. Cash transfers, for example, have been shown to help children stay in school longer and advance to higher levels of education. On average, each additional year of education a child receives increases his or her adult earnings by about 10 per cent. And for each additional year of schooling completed, on average, by young adults in a country, that country’s poverty rates fall by 9 per cent.  Inequity is neither inevitable, nor insurmountable, the report argues. Better data on the most vulnerable children, integrated solutions to the challenges children face, innovative ways to address old problems, more equitable investment and increased involvement by communities – all these measures can help level the playing field for children.(28 June 2016)
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New museum celebrates 600 years of child care

A museum that pays tribute to the role of an iconic centre in the history of care for children has opened in the heart of Florence. The 600 year old Ospedale degli Innocenti was founded by the wool and silk workers guild as a refuge for abandoned and orphaned children during the Renaissance and was designed by pioneering architect, Filippo Brunelleschi. It has been credited with being one of the first secular institutions solely dedicated to child care. Now Museo Degli Innocenti, an innovative complex of historical displays, art galleries, educational and conference facilities, will pay tribute to the role the institution has played in protecting children. Around 80 pieces of art and sculpture from Renaissance era artists, including Sandro Botticelli and Luca della Robbia, will be on show as well as documents and personal belongings of some of the children who were provided care. Historical records with the names of the children cared for by the centre will also be showcased. UNICEF’s Office of Research – Innocenti, based at the premises since 1988, will also contribute to the museum. Plans are underway for an annex to the museum that will display the work of UNICEF in improving children’s rights. A development which effectively expands the Innocenti mission from the local to global scale. The exhibit will also feature interactive displays on the situation of children from all over the world. .rwd-video { height: 0; overflow: hidden; padding-bottom: 30.25%; padding-top: 30px; position: relative; max-width:640px; max-height:360px; margin:auto; } .rwd-video iframe, .rwd-video object, .rwd-video embed { height: 100%; left: 0; position: absolute; top: 0; width: 100%; } Dale Rutstein, Chief of Communications for UNICEF Innocenti, explained the importance of the opening of the museum: “The new MUDI project represents an important step toward wider recognition of the historic work for children that started in this spot almost 600 years ago and is continuing up till this moment.” “When you look back at the level of civic care provided, the innovative thinking about how to manage children’s needs and the realization, almost from the beginning, that the children fared much better outside of the institution, you quickly see that Innocenti has been far more than the first orphanage.” Construction of Museo degli Innocenti began in 2010 with backing from Regione Toscana, Istituto degli Innocenti, and the local Authority for the Artistic Patrimony and the University. For more information on museum activities, visit here. (23 June 2016)
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Tanzania to integrate violence prevention for women and girls

A 16-year-old girl in Tanzania leaves her family home and enters into an abusive marriage. A year later, she gives birth to her first child. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, she’s still technically a girl, but her life is shaped by adult pressures. In terms of protection, should she be considered a child — or a woman? The government of Tanzania has decided, with technical support from UNICEF, to create a different holistic and rights based option: they will integrate separate efforts on violence affecting women and violence affecting children into one programme.Despite obvious overlaps between these two fields of prevention, traditional programming continues to treat women and children as separate elements of society. Catherine Maternowska, lead researcher of UNICEF Innocenti’s Multi-Country Study of Drivers of Violence Affecting Children, recently hosted a series of workshops in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar to unpack the intersections between these two fields. This merger, Maternowska says, ‘is a logical step for advocates of both women’s and children’s issues, who often find themselves facing the same challenges’. “In a country like Tanzania where early child marriage is a significant problem, a 10-year-old girl is still a child under the Convention for the Rights of the Child,” Maternowska said. “Yet, her reproductive rights, as she emerges into motherhood, must also be addressed by the women’s sector. It’s essential to recognize her multiplicity of needs while also ensuring that she has full access to sexual and reproductive health services.” According to continued learning from the Multi-Country Study, which is taking place in Italy, Peru, Zimbabwe and Viet Nam, social and cultural norms can determine levels of tolerance for violence. Integrating violence prevention services for women and children (including boys as well as girls) begins to address the way that gender and power inform a child’s life as well as the individual’s future outcomes. Increasingly, the field of violence prevention is encouraging social norms change as a way to encourage the kind of broad and sustainable social shifts needed to address gender and power imbalances. A participant in a Dar es Salaam workshop recounted her own lesson in gender norms when she was unexpectedly reclassified as a woman at 12 years of age.“When I was 12, I didn’t know that girls and boys were expected to be different. I would say I grew up as a tomboy,” she said. “That year, I ran away from my madrassa and didn’t go to classes for about a month. Instead, I was going to swim with a group of boys. One day, my grandfather passed away. When mother came to collect me from school, she learned from the teachers that I hadn’t attended for weeks. Later, my mother sat me down and said, ‘You are almost a woman. You need to stop behaving like a boy now.’ I was shocked. Before that, I had just thought of myself as… me.”International attention has recently turned to Tanzania after it became the first country in Africa to declare its intent to be a pathfinder country under the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, which will launch later this year. Maniza Zaman, Country Representative at the UNICEF Tanzania Country Office, is hopeful this groundbreaking approach will reenergize efforts in the violence prevention sector. “This National Plan of Action is innovative because it aims to address both issues: violence against children and violence against women,” Zaman said. “The integrated plan holds promise. It will benefit from a higher level of oversight, lead to more streamlined coordination from national down to village level and also better linkages between parallel programmes.”The approach will be among the first on the continent to harmonise national databases, centralise ministry functions and help coordinate government and civil society work. Additionally, the combined plan will eliminate the conundrum of labelling and separating victims of violence. One critical element will be recognition of every individual’s evolving needs throughout the life cycle: all children become adults and all adults were once children. “The priority of violence prevention programming should be to reduce an individual’s vulnerabilities and increase opportunities — before violence enters the picture at all,” Maternowska said. “We’re deeply encouraged by the determination in Tanzania  to accomplish this innovation in rights agendas.”(30 May 2016)
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Cash transfers: What’s gender got to do with it?

by Jennifer Yablonski, Amber Peterman
(17-05-2016) UNICEF works on social protection programs in over 100 countries, and many are expanding rapidly. In discussions with stakeholders, there are two gender assu ...

What drives changes in inequality in child well-being in rich countries?

by Yekaterina Chzhen
(14-04-2016) Research on inequality often loses sight of where children stand in relation to one another. The new Innocenti Report Card Fairness for Children: A league ta ...