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Major international conference on youth and gender

UNICEF Innocenti researchers shared recent evidence on adolescent well-being, the drivers of violence and the role of social protection cash transfers in adolescent transitions in sub-Saharan Africa at a major conference on youth and gender issues in relation to international development policy.The Adolescence, Youth and Gender: Building Knowledge for Change conference, organised by Young Lives, on September 8-9 at the University of Oxford, brought together up to 150 researchers and academics to promote dialogue and share the latest global evidence on adolescence, youth and gender and the implications for policy and programming.UNICEF Innocenti social policy specialist Tia Palermo participated in a panel titled Influencing Gender Socialisation in Adolescence and presented insights from a recent impact evaluation of a Tanzanian conditional cash transfer programme in relation to its impact on youth well-being and the transition to adulthood. According to Palermo, Maxine Molyneaux, a professor at University College London (UCL) and a keynote speaker during the conference, highlighted the issue of research and policy gaps related to adolescents.“Molyneaux noted that adolescents are only minimally mentioned in the SDGs, and stressed the importance of putting adolescents on the agenda of research and policymaking related to cash transfer programs,” said Palermo.Molyneaux shared important insights on gender and social protection, including how household-level monetary assessments of poverty are insufficient as women ‘suffer secondary poverty in households.’“This is true also of children,” observed Palermo. “And that’s why Innocenti developed and conducts multi-dimensional poverty among children, known as MODA (multiple overlapping deprivation analysis). Innocenti researchers are also conducting a large portfolio of research on impacts of cash transfers on adolescent well-being as part of the Transfer Project.”Another researcher stressed the need for a “unifying framework on adolescence, similar to that which exists for early childhood development,” a development that been successful in filling research gaps and advocating for Early Childhood Development (ECD)  programming. Key components for such a framework, and noted gaps in the current research, include 1) how do peer preferences and behaviours enter into adolescents’ decision-making processes? 2) What are the intra-household dynamics related to adolescent decision making, and 3) How is school quality produced?”Jacob de Hoop, an Innocenti social policy specialist presented on Economic Empowerment and Children’s Activities and said he gained important new insights on research in humanitarian settings. “Carrying out research in humanitarian settings is more complex than carrying out research in most other settings. A particular issue is that in other settings we would typically prefer to rely on panel data in which households or individuals are observed over a period of multiple years,” said De Hoop.Collecting panel data may be challenging in more volatile settings, as sample attrition is likely to be high. As a result of this and other complications, less is known about appropriate policy responses in humanitarian and emergency settings. According to De Hoop: “There is a real need for expanding the evidence base and for developing research methods that can be used in humanitarian settings.”Research and evaluation specialists, Mary Catherine Maternowska and Alina Potts presented on Understanding the Key Drivers of Violence Against Children as part of a panel on children’s experiences of violence and building a framework for violence prevention. Potts observed: “As someone who is looking at violence prevention and sees adolescence as a critical time, it was notable that no matter what the purpose, a lot of the work building off of Young Lives’ longitudinal dataset ends up addressing violence—because it is so prevalent in the minds and the lives of the young people they are following.Plenary speakers Prudence Ngwenya Nonkululeko of the African Union Commission and Maxine Molyneaux of UCL concluded the conference with a number of important observations. Ngwenya Nonkululeko highlighted “Agenda 2063,” put together by 54 African heads of state and laying out a 50-year vision for Africa, as a challenge for research designed to inform existing regional priorities. Maxine Molyneaux of UCL eloquently summarized another of the conference’s main themes: that “gender and generation must be factored into programme design.” Elsewhere, Innocenti consultant Lucia Ferrone presented on The Evolution of Adolescent Outcomes in Multi-dimensional Poverty as part of a panel on the Impacts of Deprivation and Economic Empowerment on the Well-Being of Adolescents and Young People.Richard de Groot, a consultant with UNICEF Innocenti explored Unconditional Cash Transfers and Schooling Outcomes in Ghana: Heterogeneous Effects for Boys and Girls in Secondary School.For more information on conference activities and speakers visit here. To find out more about UNICEF Innocenti research on the drivers of violence against children, visit here. For more information on Innocent work around cash transfers (The Transfer Project) visit here. For more information on Innocenti work on Multidimensional Poverty (MODA) visit here.(15 September 2016)
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New edition of Research Watch part of global effort on child migration

With an estimated 50 million children on the move in the world today, and millions more deeply affected by migration, the need for in-depth evidence to inform better policy on child migration has never been greater. In response, UNICEF Innocenti has launched a new edition of Research Watch – an online portal for researchers and policy analysts – on the theme Children on the Move. The new edition brings together top researchers, policy experts and children themselves, to explore a wide range of topical research and evidence questions. Children on the Move has been launched in coordination with UNICEF’s new global migration report Uprooted: The Growing Crisis for Migrant and Refugee Children.     “It is a fantastic opportunity to launch a new edition of Research Watch in coordination with release of a major global report on child migration – one of the world’s most urgent challenges for children,” said Dale Rutstein, Chief of Communication at UNICEF Innocenti. “We hope to highlight the critical role for in-depth research, especially involving the voices of children, in efforts to develop better policies and programmes for migrant and refugee children.”After more than a year in hiatus, Research Watch has been completely revamped as digital first multimedia content. It provides multiple thematic expert videos, topical written commentaries, in-depth podcasts and suggested research resources. As always, the content presents the views and experience of some of the leading thinkers on the current topic. Featured expert voices for Children on the Move include Simon Parker, at the University of York, Jacqueline Bhahba, of Harvard Law and Harvard Kennedy Schools, Victoria Rietig, with the Migration Policy Institute, Andrea Rossi, UNICEF social policy specialist and Mike Dottridge, an independent child rights in migration expert. The main research themes highlighted in the videos include: Push and Pull Factors Affecting Children in Migration, Child Migration and the Law, and Challenges in Protecting the Rights of Migrating Children. Two additional videos tell the story of migrant children in Guatemala and Greece. There are also written think pieces on a wide range of child migration questions. Professor François Crépeau, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants on administrative detention of children and Michelle May, of the Harvard Program on Refugee Trauma writes on unaccompanied minors from Afghanistan, Hanne Beirens of the Migration Policy Institute in Brussels writes on EU child oriented asylum policy among others. The podcasts contain all full un-edited interviews with featured experts. Research Watch and the global report Uprooted are key elements in UNICEF’s call for improved global cooperation on child migration on the eve of the 19 September UNGA Summit on Large Scale Movements of Refugees and Migrants and President Obama’s 20 September Leaders’ Summit on Refugees.GO TO THE RESEARCH WATCH PAGE(7 September 2016)
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‘Children on the move’ highlights need for evidence on child migration

After more than a year in hiatus we are bringing back Research Watch on 7 September with a new, more interactive format. Please check www.unicef-irc.org/research-watch UNICEF Innocenti is set to launch the latest edition of Research Watch, an online multimedia portal exploring current child rights research issues. Titled Children on the Move, the edition features in-depth video interviews, written commentary and podcasts on child migration with top researchers, policy analysts and child migrants themselves.   An estimated 50 million children are on the move in the world today, and millions more have been deeply affected by migration. One in three migrants is a child.  “Some of the most serious child rights concerns we face are increasingly linked to migration, and this is true in the countries of origin, along the route of transition as well as in the countries of destination,” said Goran Holmqvist, Associate Director of UNICEF Innocenti.“There is a large literature on migration, but much of it without a specific focus on children. Many vulnerabilities, and also international undertakings, specifically refer to children, so a child migration angle is called for.”Featured expert voices include Simon Parker, at the University of York, Jacqueline Bhahba, of Harvard Law and Harvard Kennedy Schools, Victoria Rietig, with the Migration Policy Institute, Andrea Rossi, UNICEF social policy specialist and Mike Dottridge, an independent child rights in migration expert. The main research themes highlighted in the videos include Push and Pull Factors Affecting Children in Migration, Child Migration and the Law, and Challenges in Protecting the Rights of Migrating Children. Two additional videos tell the story of migrant children in Guatemala and Greece. There are also think pieces on multiple research themes on child migration. Professor François Crépeau, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrants on administrative detention of children and Michelle May, of the Harvard Program on Refugee Trauma writes on unaccompanied minors from Afghanistan, among others.  The podcasts contain all full un-edited interviews with featured experts. The 7 September launch of Children on the Move coincides with the release of UNICEF’s major global report: Uprooted: the growing crisis for refugee and migrant children providing key world statistics and policy imperatives on child migration. Research Watch and the global report are key elements in UNICEF’s call for improved global cooperation on child migration on the eve of the 19 September UN Summit on Large Scale Movements of Refugees and Migrants and President Obama’s 20 September US Leaders Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis.UNICEF is mobilizing in all parts of the world to call for the following urgent actions for child refugees and migrants: protect unaccompanied children, end detention of children, keep families together, maintain access to quality essential services, address the root causes of conflict, violence and poverty and to combat xenophobia in transit and destination countries.(31 August 2016) 
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Expert Roundtable on impact of social protection on childhood violence

Can social protection programmes reduce violence experienced by children? What are the pathways, and what rigorous evidence exists? These and other questions were debated by 25 experts during the two-day round table Social Protection and Childhood Violence, organized in Florence by UNICEF Innocenti and Know Violence in Childhood, a global initiative to prevent violence in childhood at all levels of society.Researchers at UNICEF Innocenti recently took up the challenge to better understand links between social protection and childhood violence. The main argument is that poverty contributes to many forms of violence, and violence in turn blocks the road out of poverty: the so called “locust effect” described by Gary Haugen in his recent book and recalled by Amber Peterman of the UNICEF Innocenti team in her overview presentation. In fact, a large body of research shows that poverty in various forms is an important driver of childhood violence—indicating good potential for social protection to decrease violence at the margin.  Despite this potential, the roundtable highlighted that very little rigorous evidence on the ability of social protection to reduce childhood violence exists - a research gap largely due to a lack of measurement and examination in impact evaluations. These gaps led UNICEF Innocenti researchers to stress the need for investing in this area of research. “Household- and community-level poverty and economic inequality are among the risk factors for child protection violations” said Sarah Cook, Director of UNICEF Innocenti in her opening remarks, “However, to date little attention has been paid to these linkages in research, and hence there exist few studies which empirically or theoretically document the pathways through which social protection affects childhood physical, emotional and sexual violence”. On the first day, a series of case studies were presented to test these assumptions: Audrey Pettifor, of the University of North Carolina on the protective role of cash transfers conditional on schooling and outcomes of HIV and intimate partner violence among adolescent girls in South Africa; Josh Chaffin of the Women’s Refugee Commission on household economic strengthening interventions and the outcomes for child well-being; Paola Pereznieto of the Overseas Development Institute on Palestinian cash transfer programme and potential to impact childhood violence; Kathryn Maguire-Jack on social safety nets in US and child maltreatment, in addition to the UNICEF Innocenti researchers M. Catherine Maternowska on Childhood violence and poverty-related drivers; and Tia Palermo on the impact of unconditional cash transfers on sexual violence and exploitation in sub-Saharan Africa. On the second day, the discussion moved to the analysis of the regional constraints that affect the implementation and outcomes of social protection typologies in different countries. In addition, integration or harmonization of social and child protection services with social protection (so-called ‘cash plus’ models) were presented by Bernadette Madrid of the University of Philippines, Mayke Huijbregt of UNICEF Mozambique and Lorraine Sherr of University College London on South Africa and Malawi. A "cash plus" approach may be important to consider as cash alone is not always sufficient to reduce the broad, interrelated social and economic vulnerabilities associated with childhood violence.  A "plus" component as a layering of services, interventions or messaging embedded in social protection programmes, may have the potential to make a significant difference for individual children in facilitating safe transitions to adulthood and in reducing violence and exploitation experienced by adolescents.Social protection and child protection are no longer two worlds apart, but there is still a long way to go, acknowledging that childhood violence is complex and poverty is just one aspect of the determinants of violence affecting children. How can other aspects be tackled by social protection programmes, beyond household economic strengthening and addressing poverty? Much more research is needed to answer that question.(20 May 2016)
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First ever all Africa publications catalogue an important resource for researchers

The UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office recently produced the first ever catalogue of all evidence that UNICEF and its partners are generating on the situation of children and young people in the continent. The catalogue aims to more effectively disseminate knowledge and evidence being generated in Africa for key African constituencies working on children’s rights and development, and promote improved south-south learning exchange among countries.This is particularly important in Africa, where the current demographic revolution will see the under-18 population increase by two thirds in the near future, almost reaching 1 billion by mid-century. This means close to half of the world population of children will be African by the end of the 21st century, and the need for strong evidence to inform the implementation of social policies and budgets for children is urgent.The 2016 catalogue features over 250 reports and studies that will be made available over the course of the year. These reports and studies represent the collective knowledge produced by UNICEF Country and Regional Offices in Africa. They capture the work that UNICEF and its partners do on the continent to support children and young people realise their rights to survival, development and protection.Most publications are, and will be, available online. For each publication, the catalogue includes Authors/Contributors, web-links, dates of (planned) publication and contact details for additional information.(13 May 2016)
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Link between social protection and violence prevention to be explored

Every year, as many as one billion children experience physical, sexual, or emotional violence. The impact of childhood violence spreads far beyond the individual victim. Efforts to address the problem to date have largely centered on fixing the damage caused after violence occurs. However, the global community is starting to come together to understand what a more prevention-focused approach should look like.To this end, there is increasing interest in understanding how social protection programmes can mitigate the risk of violence against children. Social protection programming is on the rise globally and is broadly defined as interventions aimed at preventing, reducing and eliminating the economic and social harm caused by poverty.UNICEF Innocenti and the Know Violence in Childhood Initiative are convening an expert round table to examine evidence and research gaps on the linkages between social protection and childhood violence in Florence, Italy. As child-sensitive safety nets are designed and scaled up around the globe, the question of how social protection can play a role in decreasing victimization has high relevancy for international child protection efforts. The intersection between social protection (specifically cash transfers) and youth outcomes is a key component of the Adolescent Wellbeing programme, led by Innocenti. The round table will gather 25 experts from around the globe for two days to discuss new research linking social protection to childhood violence outcomes, including young child and adolescent sexual, physical and emotional violence. Some key questions to be discussed include:What is the potential for social protection to affect childhood violence?What rigorous evidence exists on the impact of social protection on childhood violence? Where have the range of social protection programmes actively tried to address childhood violence, and what modifications or strategies have been pursued?What are some of the key research questions and gaps looking forward?This round table is part of a larger Know Violence strategy which convenes sectoral expert round tables to bring together global leaders on key topical issues to review evidence on the importance and possibility of integrated actions to prevent childhood violence.Participants will identify evidence gaps to prioritize further research and produce a summary report and paper outlining the evidence to date, gaps, challenges and promise in linking social protection to efforts to address the risk of childhood violence.(5 May 2016)
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Global expert meeting on bullying and cyber-bullying at Innocenti

The Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, with the support of UNICEF Innocenti, have convened a global expert’s consultation to discuss the growing impact of bullying and cyber-bullying on children.  The consultation will gather experts from 19 countries representing ombudspersons, law enforcement, academia, government, policy-making, public health, media, education and civil society at Innocenti for two days. The aim of the consultation is to gain an understanding of the magnitude of bullying and cyber-bullying and its impact on children, and to identify recommendations to address these concerns at international, regional and national levels. The outcomes of the consultation will inform the forthcoming report of Secretary-General on protecting children from bullying.  The resolution of the General Assembly (A/RES/69/158) "Protecting children from bullying", adopted in December 2014, requests the Secretary-General to submit a report to the General Assembly at its seventy-first session. The report will be based on the information provided by Member States and relevant stakeholders, in collaboration with relevant United Nations entities, and will have an emphasis on the causes and effects, as well as good practices and guidance for bullying prevention and response.The consultation aims to identify specific gaps and weaknesses of existing data and agree on recommendations on what type of data should be collected to support policy making and effective interventions. It will also identify essential elements of an effective policy, both at national and local level as well as areas in which specific legislation should be enacted to support a comprehensive policy to address bullying.  (3 May 2016)
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Results Report for 2015 Now Available

Each year UNICEF Innocenti produces its Results Report in order to highlight major research activities, important knowledge exchange events and other key results for children. Our Results Report for 2015 is now available and gives an overview of what has been accomplished over the course of 2015. Our small team and partners published over 100 research articles, reports and think pieces. Our linkages with the network of UNICEF regional and country offices allowed for particularly rich programming insights, diverse channels of communication, advocacy and policy engagement, as well as world-wide relationships with a wide array of international academic partners. The report highlights many of these relationships as well as how our work can generate knowledge and change through ‘research uptake’. In 2015 we marked 25 years of research for children and simultaneously welcomed new Director, Dr Sarah Cook to our privileged home in Filippo Brunelleschi’s Ospedale degli Innocenti.  The celebration provided an opportunity to reflect on past achievements and explore ways to continue the Office’s leadership role in producing high quality, cutting-edge and policy relevant research for children. Results Report 2015 features important new Innocenti evidence from the Transfer Project challenging conventional wisdom on the relationship between cash transfers and fertility. It also brings to the fore important new findings on adolescent wellbeing, on the association between corporal punishment in school and diminished achievement, and children’s rapidly increasing use of the internet.  Highlights of content:Significant strides were taken in improving governance of UNICEF’s research efforts undertaken. In-depth snap-shots of research projects on adolescent well-being, children’s use of the internet and contributions to the 2030 agenda are provided.Increased use of digital communication and social media channels for dissemination of research results.Description of important global research partnerships provided.Snapshot of office administration, resources and allocations.Comprehensive list of publications, articles and research briefs.Looking forward, Results Report forecasts important activities in 2016, including new areas of research in migration and education. It also announces re-establishment of a global Innocenti advisory group and a new research agenda. Importantly, 2016 should see heightened recognition of the role that research can play in implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.(18 April 2016)
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Governments urged to prioritise the most disadvantaged children in tackling inequality

The latest Innocenti Report Card raises concerns about the impact of inequality on the most disadvantaged children in high income countries. In 19 out of 41 countries studied, the poorest 10 per cent of children live in households that have less than half the income of the median. In Japan and the United States the poorest children live in homes that have about 40 per cent of the median income.  Report Card 13, Fairness for Children: A league table of inequality in child well-being in rich countries, ranks 41 countries in the OECD and the European Union according to how far the bottom 10% of children fall below their peers in the middle of the distribution: ‘bottom-end inequality.’ The report measures bottom-end inequality of income, educational achievement, children’s self-reported health and life satisfaction, to create a full portrait of how far children at the bottom are being allowed to fall behind their peers. “As concern with high levels of inequality rises on the global policy agenda, our understanding of the long term impacts of inequality is also growing: what happens to children has life-long and even intergenerational consequences” said Dr. Sarah Cook, Director of the UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti. “Any serious efforts to reduce inequality must place priority on children’s well-being today and ensure that all children are given opportunities to achieve their potential.”According to the report, between 2006 and 2012 inequality in reading scores narrowed in the majority of countries, with the exception of Finland and Sweden which saw a widening gap in reading scores at the same time that median test scores fell. The largest improvements in reading achievement were made in Chile, the Czech Republic, Germany Mexico and Belgium. Inequality in children’s self-reported health symptoms increased in the majority of countries. More than half of children in Turkey and around a third of children in Bulgaria, France, Israel, Malta and Romania report one or more symptoms of ill-health a day. Despite this, many countries showed decreasing inequality in physical activity and unhealthy eating due to faster improvements among those at the bottom. Based on children’s ranking of their life satisfaction on a scale of 1 – 10, the median score across all countries is 8. But children at the lower end of the distribution fall far behind their peers. One in 20 children rated rating life satisfaction as 4 or less out of 10.  Combining all the measures of inequality, Denmark ranks at the top of the distribution. It has comparatively low bottom-end inequality in each of the four domains. Israel and Turkey rank at the bottom of the overall league table. Some of the richest countries in the world, however, fall in the bottom third of the overall league table including Canada, France, Belgium and Italy. Report Card 13 concludes with an analysis of the impact of family background on inequality. The findings are clear: lower socio-economic status is associated with poor educational achievement and low levels of physical activity, healthy eating and life satisfaction.“Understanding the differences among countries in how far the most disadvantaged children fall behind their average peers can provide some insight into the conditions or interventions that may help to reduce the gaps,” Sarah Cook said. “The league tables provide a clear reminder that the well-being of children in any country is not an unavoidable outcome of family circumstances or of the level of economic development but can be shaped by policy choices.” Other significant findings:Relative income gaps and levels of poverty are closely related: higher levels of poverty tend to be found in countries with wider income gaps and lower poverty where there are narrower income gaps.Two higher income countries, Belgium and France, are found at the bottom of the education league table, with very large achievement gaps. Four countries – Estonia, Ireland, Latvia and Poland – combine lower educational achievement inequality with fewer children falling below minimum proficiency standards.Inequality gaps in physical activity and in unhealthy eating decreased in the majority of countries.At ages 13 and 15 girls are more likely than boys in all countries to have fallen behind in self-reported measures of life satisfaction(14 April 2016)
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Innocenti Report Card 13: Fairness for children to be launched in Paris

The new Innocenti Report Card Fairness for Children. A league table of inequality in child well-being in rich countries will be launched in Paris on April 14th at a conference jointly organized with the French National Committee for UNICEF. The 13th Innocenti Report Card will highlight the impact of growing inequality with a focus on how children in the bottom 10 per cent compare to their peers in the middle. League Tables will rank 41 high income countries in inequality of income, education, health and life-satisfaction. The high profile launch in Paris will present the findings of Report Card 13 to the international community with media participation. International researchers, policy experts, government leaders, civil society representatives and young people will discuss the implications for promoting increased equality for all children in three panel discussion followed by questions and answers. The report is the latest edition of the Innocenti Report Card series which assesses child well-being in EU and OECD countries. Stay tuned! Save the date and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
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