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Our top research and convening web stories of the year: A replay of 2019

Highlights from our "What's New?" archive in our 30th anniversary year

(31 December 2019)  Over the last few years a huge amount of effort has gone into publication of web articles on the latest research, evidence and thought leadership news at UNICEF Innocenti. 2019 was an important year for our research, with findings on migration, sport for development, family friendly workplace policies and child internet use contributing to new ways of understanding critical issues for child and family related policy makers. It was also a banner year for the renewal of Innocenti as a global centre of thought leadership on child rights.

We hope you enjoy this rewind through our web news coverage of 2019!

On 30 January we reported on the Innocenti Working Paper "Child-Related Concerns and Migration Decisions" by Sara Burrone, Bina D'Costa and Goran Holmqvist, which presented compelling evidence that child-related concerns are a major driver of migration (see article at right).

 

On 4 February we published the significant Innocenti Research Report "Improved Outcomes in Education, Nutrition, Well-being for Refugee Children in Lebanon" which showed how cash transfers in hunamitarian settings played a highly impactful role in reducing child labor and improving overall conditions for children (full publication at right).



On 28 March we released a ground-breaking report "Getting Into the Game: Understanding the Evidence for Child-Focused Sport For Development" which was the first ever global study on S4D and showed that participation in sport can improve children's learning and skills (download report summary here). 

 

On 10 April, in partnership with the Transfer Project, we convened the seventh annual "Transfer Project Multi-Stakeholder Workshop" in Arusha, Tanzania which engaged key policy decision makers from across sub-Saharan Africa in the latest evidence on social protection (read article at right). 

 

On 3 May we convened an important "Experts Workshop on Gender Responsive and Age Sensitive Social Protection" which helped launch a new phase of Innocenti's research that will pull together findings in adolescent wellbeing, gender and social protection (read article at right).  

 

On 28 May UNICEF Innocenti and LSE convened more than 40 top experts from 27 countries to discuss next steps for the pre-eminent global research partnsrehip on children online, Global Kids Online, charting a course for evidence generation in the years to come (read article at right).

 

On 13 June we released and important research paper "Are the World's Richest Countries Family Friendly? Policy on the OECD and EU" which captured global news media attention on the extremely topical issue of family friendly workplace policies (read full publication at right).

 

On 2 July we published an important Innocenti Research Report "No Mother Wants Her Child to Migrate: Vulnerability of Children on the Move in the Horn of Africa," which provided a detailed, in-depth look at why and how children and young people seek to migrate in the Horn region.  

 

In July UNICEF Innocenti convened the worlds foremost research and data experts working in the field of violence affecting children at the "EVAC Knowledge Network Global 'Kick-Off' Meeting" to address challenging data deficiencies on this crucial issue affecting children the world over (read article at right).  

 

In September UNICEF Innocenti convened "Looking Back, Looking Forward: Consultation on the Mandate of the UN Sopecial Rapporteur on the Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children" - a major global consultation on the emerging challenges and new complexities in the field of child sexual abuse and exploitation (read article at right). 

 

From 25 - 27 October we organized the first ever UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival in collaboration with Cinema La Compagnia in Florence. The festival screened 32 films from 28 countries focused on the theme of 'Growing Up. Narratives from all over the world' (read article at right).  

 

From 7 - 9 November the first "Leading Minds Conference on Children and Youth" was convened at Innocenti on the subject of global mental health for children and adolescents. The first ever meeting on the subject co-organized by UNICEF and WHO added significant momentum toward solutions for this massive mental health crisis (read article at right).  

 

On 20 November Filippo Brunelleschi's Loggia degli Innocenti illuminated in blue in celebration of UNICEF's 2019 World Children's Day "#GoBlue" campaign (read article at right).

 

At the end of November we published "Growing Up In a Connected World" which contained evidence that blanket restrictions on children’s internet use may prevent them from taking advantage of critical learning and skills development opportunities. (read publication at right).

 

On 23 December we wrote about the seventh, and possibly final, Best of UNICEF Research annual publication of summaries of the best research projects that have been produced across UNICEF in the last year (read full report at right).

 

In celebration of our 30th anniversary in Florence we published "For every child, answers: 30 years of research for children at UNICEF Innocenti" with 30 deeply referenced articles about our major areas of impact across three decades (read full publication at right).

Thank you for following 'What's New?' web news about all the latest developments in research, evidence and thought leadership for children and child rights in 2019. You can search through our entire "What's New?" archive to find all our coverage over the last several years. Please continue to visit these pages and share our stories with your contacts.

Here's to a happy and successful 2020 in service to the world's most vulnerable children!

 

Related Articles

Participation in Sport Can Improve Children’s Learning and Skills Development
Article Article

Participation in Sport Can Improve Children’s Learning and Skills Development

Visit our new Getting Into The Game microsite to download the Report Summary and to browse key message and data charts. The full report, which is still in production, can also be accessed in provisional form. (Cover image ©ChildFund Pass it Back)(28 March 2019)  Participation in sport improves children’s educational attainment and skills development including empowerment, leadership and self-esteem – contributing to their overall well-being and future prospects, according to new research released today by the Barça Foundation and UNICEF.“It’s long been understood that sport promotes children’s health, and physical development, but now we have solid evidence to suggest that sport can have a powerful impact on their overall education and life skills development,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Charlotte Petri Gornitzka. “We must use this evidence to inspire investment in sports for children, especially the most vulnerable.”Getting into the Game: Understanding the Evidence for Child-Focused Sport for Development features analyses from global research literature and data from more than 300 sport for development (S4D) programmes in 100 countries. The report was commissioned by the Barça Foundation and carried out by a research team at UNICEF’s Office of Research – Innocenti.Other highlights from the report include:Successful sport for development initiatives involve multi-sectoral cooperation, such as the inclusion of education and social components.Coaches play a critical role in safeguarding children and mitigating possible negative influences. There is little evidence to suggest involvement in sport reduces a child’s risk of abuse and exploitation. In fact, when not done well, there are indications that some sports can increase exposure to violence. Better evidence is needed for the monitoring of sport for development initiatives, including more research on effective implementation. More meaningful child participation in programme design and evidence building is needed. As 2019 marks 30 years since the adoption of the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history - The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which among others, states that every child has a right to leisure, play, and participation in cultural and artistic activities – Barça Foundation and UNICEF urge governments to deliver on the commitment to leisure and play.Barça Foundation and UNICEF Partnership on S4DBarça Foundation and UNICEF have been working together since 2006. Their partnership has helped nearly two million children access sports, play, education and child protection initiatives. The two organizations identified a critical gap in robust evidence on sport for development programming, which led to the production of Getting into the Game. In a second phase, the researchers will test the report recommendations in programmes, including at UNICEF projects funded by FC Barcelona in Brazil, China, Ghana and South Africa, as well as projects in countries affected by conflict or disaster. "With the presentation of this research, the partnership between UNICEF and the Barça Foundation is positioned as a benchmark in sport for development in the world. Our commitment to evidence and rigor will have an enormous impact on the organizations that work in this field, improving the actions and positively impacting the lives of millions of children," said  President of FC Barcelona Josep Maria Bartomeu."This partnership goes beyond programme implementation, goes beyond the logo of UNICEF on the Barça shirt, beyond a research. It's all that, and more,” said Jordi Cardoner, First Vice President, FC Barcelona. “This alliance has an incalculable value, because with it we are positioning sport as a great tool to improve the quality of life of children around the world.”“Sport is not only inspiring, it is also a real tool for inclusion and to guarantee fundamental rights of children, such as the right to play, “said Gustavo Suárez Pertierra, Chair of the UNICEF Spanish Committee. “This report is a first step to learn how to overcome the barriers that prevent vulnerable children from enjoying sports in a safe environment. Sport generates development and, together with the Barca Foundation, we will work to demonstrate that." 
Researchers and Policy-Makers Discuss Evidence for Social Protection Policies in Sub-Saharan Africa
Article Article

Researchers and Policy-Makers Discuss Evidence for Social Protection Policies in Sub-Saharan Africa

Participants at the 7th Transfer Project Workshop held April 2019 in Arusha, Tanzania. (10 April 2019)  Celebrating 10 years of building evidence for action on cash transfers in Africa, the Transfer Project’s latest multi-stakeholder workshop in Arusha, Tanzania recently gathered social protection experts from 20 African countries. Attended by government representatives, NGOs, academics, and donors, the workshop facilitated cross-country learning, dialogue and debate to inform the development of social protection policies.Now in its seventh iteration, the Transfer Project workshop has grown from 39 participants in 2010, to over 130 participants in 2019. It is increasingly seen as an important forum where governments exchange and learn about the use of evaluations and evidence produced by UNICEF Innocenti and partners in decision-making processes across the region. A government representative went so far as to say that the impact evaluation report of the Social Cash Transfer Programme was “the bible” for his ministry.The Transfer Project is a collaboration between UNICEF, FAO, UNC Chapel Hill, as well as national governments and local research partners. For over a decade, this multi-organisational research initiative has been producing evidence on the impacts of cash transfers in sub-Saharan Africa, going beyond measuring typical economic outcomes, to find out if and how cash impacts other aspects of people’s lives. Policy InfluencersThe workshop was officially opened by Hon. Dr. Mary Mwanjelwa, Deputy Minister from the Tanzanian President’s Office. This first day focused on long-term poverty reduction by exploring the contentious topic of “graduation” from social protection, the productive impacts of cash transfers, as well as a guest lecture by University of Manchester’s Samuel Hickey who discussed the political economy issues surrounding support for and scale-up of social protection, including critical junctures such as national elections or famine.The second day featured evidence from across the region and spanned various themes, including gender, child labour, and cash plus approaches. Representatives from the hosts, Tanzania’s Social Action Fund, provided an in-depth look at the impacts of Tanzania’s Productive Social Safety Net programme, outlining how cash plus programmes can have a positive impact on young people’s lives. UNICEF Innocenti researchers played a prominent role. Tia Palermo and Amber Peterman presented work on cash transfers and gender (chaired by Lusajo Kajula), while Luisa Natali and Jacob de Hoop presented evidence on cash transfers and children’s productive activities. In addition, collaborative research with Innocenti on impact evaluations in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia were showcased by national and academic partners.  “Because poverty is gendered, we can’t sustainably reduce poverty without addressing gender inequities.” – Tia PalermoThe final day of the workshop delved into methodological approaches on impact evaluation and provided a preview of innovative new programmes in the pipeline from Kenya, Ethiopia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mozambique and Malawi.A small group discusses how the political economy influences social protection policies and programmes at the 7th Transfer Project Workshop held April 2019 in Arusha, Tanzania. Media EngagementWhile garnering the support of stakeholders is indispensable for the implementation and growth of social protection policies, there is also a need to translate the evidence to speak to a wider audience. That’s why this year, the Transfer Project held its first-ever Media Day preceeding the workshop. Supported by the Hewlett Foundation, and in collaboration with UNICEF’s East and Southern Africa Regional Office, the media day hosted 16 journalists and editors from prominent media houses across nine countries in Africa. This one-day crash course in social protection and cash transfers equipped the media with the latest thinking, evidence, and arguments on the case for scaling up social protection instruments. The event also provided an opportunity to discuss the important role the media plays in shaping development policies, as well as identifying what is required from researchers to better cover social protection findings. Read national media coverage on cash transfers following the workshop in The Herald (Zimbabwe).“[Evidence] had a backseat in the way we were doing things, but now I realise that it should be put in the forefront. You cannot create a social protection policy without evidence or evidential support.” – A Government official participant.The workshop concluded with a fascinating session on converting evidence into action, featuring perspectives from donors, government, civil society, national researchers and multi-lateral perspectives. Chaired by Transfer Project co-founder, Ashu Handa, the session gave an unfiltered insight into the challenges of and lessons on evidence-uptake to influence decision-making.As the Transfer Project enters its second decade, research priorities and demands are changing. While evidence on cash transfers in this region can no longer be called ‘novel’, there is still a huge demand for evidence in the region—around graduation, long-term effects, cash plus, systems building and more. It was particularly exciting to see governments presenting the use of evaluations and evidence produced by Innocenti in their decision-making processes.Check out the Transfer Project’s website for all presentations, photos and videos from the workshop. Explore the workshop’s agenda and participants in the right-hand column of this article. See highlights from across the three days in Transfer Project’s Twitter Moment.
Social Protection: A Key Component for Achieving Gender Equality
Article Article

Social Protection: A Key Component for Achieving Gender Equality

(3 May 2019) International attention towards social protection has increased enormously as governments adopt and invest in more programmes. In fact, more than 3 billion people around the world today are covered by at least one social protection benefit. Despite the pervasiveness of social protection, and its potential to provide income security and resilience against shocks, one vital component is often missing in its design and implementation—gender dynamics. This has led to gaps in our understanding on how different social protection programmes and features, contribute to foster positive gender outcomes. Adolescent girls and boys who benefit from social protection programmes in the Mbeya region of Tanzania take part in livelihood and life skills training provided by village mentors.As global attention turns towards social protection, there is a concurrent emphasis on adolescence as a critical opportunity to fast-track social change. Adopting a life cycle lens to social protection, with a focus on adolescents in particular, is important for multiple reasons. Firstly, adolescence is a period of rapid biological change, in which young people experience puberty, brains change rapidly, and gender differences emerge. Secondly, adolescents are a growing demographic group, with the global population of adolescents and young people expected to reach 2 billion by 2030.Despite the importance of both gender and age in order to achieve social change, there is little evidence on how social protection systems and programmes can be more gender-responsive, as well as sensitive to different age groups’ specific risks and vulnerabilities. To identify and address these gaps in our knowledge, 35 experts from the fields of academia, practice, and programming will gather at UNICEF’s Office of Research in Florence on the 6th of May for an experts’ workshop on gender-responsive and age-sensitive social protection. The event will discuss the evidence base on gender, adolescence and social protection, and create linkages between evidence, policy and programming actors. A series of think pieces by key experts in the fields of gender and social protection, commissioned by UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, will also be presented at the workshop. Bodoor, a 17 year old 12th grade student in Azraq Refugee Camp, with her friends at her UNICEF-supported school. She is preparing for her final exams. She and her family, including two sisters and three brothers, have lived in Azraq since it opened in 2014. A keynote address from Charlotte Watts, the Chief Scientific Adviser at the UK’s Department for International Development, will set the tone for the workshop. Following this, discussions throughout the day will identify where the evidence base is robust and where there are evidence gaps that need investments. Panel discussions will explore: How a life course lens is critical for effective and efficient social protection systems, including for adolescents;How social protection programmes and strategies have – or have not – considered gender dynamics in their design and implementation;Design and implementation considerations in gender-responsive social protection;Social protection in the context of humanitarian, climate change, and complex crises.This experts’ workshop is part of the DFID-funded programme on gender-responsive age-sensitive social protection. The think piece series, which discusses the intersection of these three important areas, will be published on the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti website in the coming weeks.Check out UNICEF Innocenti’s Twitter for live updates throughout the workshop. 
Global Researchers on Child Internet Use Gather at Innocenti
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Global Researchers on Child Internet Use Gather at Innocenti

(28 May 2019) In high- and middle-income countries, and increasingly also in low-income countries, many children’s activities are underpinned by internet and mobile phone access in one way or another. Across truly diverse domestic, cultural and geographic contexts, many children now use digital and online technologies as part of their everyday lives.Members of Global Kids Online (GKO), an international research project supporting rigourous cross-national evidence generation on children’s internet use, gathered at UNICEF Innocenti this week. The partnership will review evidence from 11 countries on children’s digital access, use, skills and risks in preparation for the latest Global Kids Online research report to be published in late 2019.“Among many other things, members of the GKO research network will review progress on our next substantive report, now in the final stages of analytical work,” said Daniel Kardefelt-Winther, lead researcher on child internet use at UNICEF Innocenti. “We will discuss the latest findings and gather feedback on how best to shape the major recommendations of the report.” Country reports from Albania, Ghana, New Zealand, the Philippines and Uruguay will be presented.The network will also discuss what is needed to expand and strengthen global data-gathering activities on children’s internet use; how to leverage evidence for research uptake and policy impact; and will hear about latest progress of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child ‘General Comment on Child Rights in the Digital Environment.’A key new development to be discussed is the upcoming implementation of GKO surveys in 14 countries in Africa and South East Asia under the new ‘Disrupting Harm’ project, funded by the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children and carried out jointly by UNICEF Innocenti, ECPAT International and INTERPOL. The Disrupting Harm project aims to better understand the risks of violence and sexual exploitation that children face online.“This meeting is also an important opportunity for GKO partners to share experiences, learn from each other and help form new partnerships,” said Kardefelt-Winther. “Bringing experts and practitioners from around the world together has always been a key objective of our network”
Global Effort to Strengthen Available Evidence on Violence Affecting Children
Article Article

Global Effort to Strengthen Available Evidence on Violence Affecting Children

 (22 July 2019)  Ending violence against children (EVAC) by 2030 is among the most important goals for children in the SDGs. While advocacy and political will is on the upswing, improving the availability of quality evidence, and building cooperation to scale up promising programmes to end violence represent major challenges.Recently more than 40 experts from international organizations, universities and leading organizations across the world—the EVAC Knowledge Network—gathered at UNICEF Innocenti in Florence, to discuss and explore critical issues on building the evidence base for ending violence against children. (Report of the EVAC Knowledge Network global 'kick off' meeting right)“While more evidence on the extent, impact and risk of violence is available, data collected are often not adequately disaggregated, analyzed, distributed or used to shape policy and to implement action,” said Marta Santos Pais, former Special Rapporteur of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children said in her opening video message to the gathering. “Insights into what works in prevention and responses aren’t given enough consideration.” Participants in the two-day meeting highlighted the challenges in reporting about violence against children, as well as some of the progress made across sectors and different stakeholders. As Daniela Ligiero from Together for Girls remarked: “This movement for improved data and evidence is a ‘sort of mosaic’ where everyone brings their piece, but, equally, there is a need to step back to see the full picture in order to identify gaps and priorities that need concerted attention and action”.Evidence and PolicyThe meeting Keynote speech was delivered by Professor Jeremy Shiffman, of the Johns Hopkins University at the end of day one: “Four Challenges that Global Networks Face: Considerations for Violence Against Children.” Drawing on findings from studies of eight networks, Professor Shiffman identified the major challenges that networks working on social issues commonly face:Problem definition - generating consensus on what the problem is and how it should be addressed; Positioning - portraying the issue in ways that inspire external audiences to act; Coalition building - forging alliances with these external actors, and; Governance - establishing institutions to facilitate collective action.The development of a better understanding of the nature and consequences of violence, as well as selection of appropriate data collection methods are critically important in tackling all forms of violence (physical, sexual and emotional). Data collection cannot happen in isolation. Both the approach and the process are critical to building the skills and capacity needed to understand the complexity of preventing and/or reducing violence. To support and facilitate the process a “methods menu” focusing on the strengths, limitations and gaps of the various approaches was presented as a useful tool and a positive step forward in 2019 for the EVAC Network.DefinitionsOne of the recognized challenges in measuring EVAC is the definition of violence, a process that is increasingly being seen not just as a technical issue but more as a social and political one. Online, offline and humanitarian sub-disciplines in the field of violence prevention and response contribute to the lack of common definitions, as each of them is influenced by contextual realities of different environments.Challenges in definition of indicators were linked to several key issues: Gaps between researchers and policy makers which can jeopardize the translation of evidence into effective policies and programmes; Lack of primary data collection processes, particularly in the Global South; Biases toward ‘high quality’ data, which exclude important findings and sources from systematic reviews and greatly limit evidence on what works and why.Research on violence also entails some ethical issues which deserve special consideration. The World Health Organization has developed a set of recommendations (See INSPIRE document right) for addressing the complex safety and ethical issues associated with researching, monitoring and documenting violence in different contexts. In addition, more needs to be done to tackle children’s participation in research on violence, based on existing resources. As noted by participants, research quality improves when children are engaged and their perspectives on violence can shape more effective programmes and policies in meeting their needs.How to address knowledge gaps in EVAC was discussed during the presentation of an early draft of an evidence gap map (EGM) on children and SDGs, developed by UNICEF Innocenti in collaboration with the Campbell Collaboration. The map builds on the idea of a pyramidal ‘evidence architecture’, which goes from data to checklists, with EGMs as a key element in the middle of the pyramid, building from rigorous and sound primary studies. The presenters suggested the idea that the EVAC field has some way to go to build sufficient evidence architecture in this area. The challenge of bringing successful interventions to scale through implementation strategies that prioritize iterative learning and evidence based adaptive principles, was discussed. Adaptive management is particularly important for violence prevention interventions, as these typically require strong links between data gathering and interventions design within rapidly changing environments. The final session touched on knowledge sharing networks to enrich cross-fertilization and to connect policymakers, practitioners and other stakeholders. The role of an EVAC Knowledge Network, its relevance and priorities, as well as some core recommendations and follow-up actions, were discussed. The significant contribution that can be made by a forum that brings together users and producers of data and evidence was emphasized, as a means of accelerating progress towards the SDGS.
UN Special Rapporteur holds expert consultation on prevention of the sale & sexual exploitation of children
Article Article

UN Special Rapporteur holds expert consultation on prevention of the sale & sexual exploitation of children

A young boy watches content on his smart mobile phone in Selce, Croatia. The consultation will discuss recent developments, including the expansion of the Internet and social media, that have had a large impact on the sale and sexual exploitation of children.(24 September 2019) Although significant efforts have been made to address the scourge of the sale and sexual exploitation of children, numerous gaps remain. The nature of the issue has changed considerably over recent decades with far-reaching impact on children, including the expansion of Internet, migration flows, natural disasters, conflicts, climate-related upheavals and the ever-evolving and increasing use of assisted reproductive technologies, such as surrogacy. Against this backdrop, the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution, child pornography and other child sexual abuse material, Ms Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, in partnership with the UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti, will hold a two-day expert meeting in Florence. The aim of the meeting is to reflect on the current state of play of this problem, its root causes and new manifestations, as well as the relevance and the impact of interventions to eliminate the sale and sexual exploitation of children. The meeting will take place on 24th and 25th September 2019, at UNICEF Innocenti and will gather over 30 experts in child rights. This expert meeting is part of a series of consultations, including with Member States and a call for input seeking information from all interested stakeholders to inform the Special Rapporteur’s final report to the Human Rights Council in March 2020. New UN Peacekeeping Base Offers Yei Community Path to Peace and Prosperity, Yei, South Sudan. Migration flows, natural disasters, conflicts, and climate-related upheavals, among other developments, have changed the nature of the scourge of the sale and sexual exploitation of children considerably.The two-day consultation will offer a platform for debate and open dialogue to exchange experiences, challenges, good practices, lessons learned, and recommendations as to what are the priorities and neglected issues requiring urgent attention. Sessions will explore:Awareness and attitudes underpinning the sale and sexual exploitation of children States’ jurisdiction and institutional accountabilityRoot causes and demand for the sexual exploitation of children and children’s vulnerability to sale and sexual exploitation Legal frameworks to protect children from sale and sexual exploitation Strengthening child protection systemsSpecial focuses on sport, technology, and migration and forced labour.Evidence on effective prevention and response strategies The way forwardUNICEF Innocenti will host the meeting and contribute expertise on child rights and protection across all the sessions. Priscilla Idele, UNICEF Innocenti’s Director a.i., will open the meeting. Chief of Research on Child Rights and Child Protection, Ramya Subrahmanian, will chair the opening session, as well as a session on evidence of effective prevention and response strategies. Our Digital Research Specialist, Daniel Kardefelt-Winther, will chair a session with a special focus on technology.Follow UNICEF Innocenti and @UN_SPExperts on Twitter, as well as the hashtags #StandUp4HumanRights and #EndChildAbuse for updates from the consultation.  
UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival concludes on a high note
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UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival concludes on a high note

 (4 November 2019) The inaugural UNICEF Innocenti Film festival concluded on a positive note on 27 October at Cinema La Compagnia in Florence. Thirty two films from 28 countries were screened over three days, receiving enthusiastic reception from audiences. Apart from the diversity and quality of the film programme, a highlight of the festival was the panel discussions which featured dialogue between film directors and UNICEF child rights research experts.Priscilla Idele, Director a.i, UNICEF Innocenti explained, "And while our primary mode of exploration of children’s rights is still research, we felt there is a great need to explore new innovative and more powerful ways of highlighting the challenges facing children. This is how the idea of a film festival on stories of childhood from all over the world was born. From the moment we started exploring this idea, it seemed to be something that immediately captivated people everywhere."Twelve invited filmmakers attended the representing films made in Belgium, Iran, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Japan, Germany and Ethiopia. Among the films presented three had their world premiere, two had their European premiere and six had their Italian premieres. While films were submitted from directors of all ages the average age of the directors whose films received "Official Selection" recognition was 29 years old.   Federico Chiarini, Channel presenter, producer for Sky Atlantic and Sky Cinema, who served as moderator of the festivals Q&A sessions, said: "What I will not forget about this festival were the testimonies of the directors who intervened, often accompanied by the words of the researchers of the UNICEF Innocenti center. A film has the ability to reach the heart of its audience very quickly, but sometimes the viewer perceives that reality with distance, seeing it reproduced on the screen. The presence of the authors in the room helped restoring realism to those stories, making them real in our eyes. And now they will stay with us forever.”UNICEF Innocenti staff and specially invited film directors at the closing ceremony of the UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival at the Cinema La Compagnia in Florence, Italy. "The festival offers the possibility of comparing and reflecting on the conditions and the problems of childhood, which is a fundamental component for every society which aims at an equal and sustainable development," said Monica Barni, Vice President of the Tuscan Region. "On this basis the Tuscany Region offered its  support to UNICEF Innocenti Film Festival, this year at its premiere edition, with the hope that it can become a laboratory of ideas and reflections also for the coming years."Dale Rutstein, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Innocenti reflected: "We launched the festival with the hope that by bringing together film narratives of childhood from all over the world that we would be able to create important moments of reflection about the realities that children face in different contexts. I think we learned that the combination of powerful film storytelling about childhood combined with expert discussion on child rights points to a new way of advocating for children without compromising artistic standards."   
Leading Minds 2019 conference on child and adolescent mental health concludes
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Leading Minds 2019 conference on child and adolescent mental health concludes

Young mental health advocates (left to right) Victor Ugo of Nigeria, Fatou Dieye Fall of Senegal, Satvik Sethi of India and Grace Gatera of Rwanda speaking at the opening session of Leading Minds 2019 conference in Florence, Italy. (14 November 2019) The lights have dimmed on the inaugural Leading Minds gathering – UNICEF’s new global conference series to highlight burning issues affecting children and young people in the 21st century – but the notes of Vivaldi and Mozart played by students of the Music Academy of Fiesole at the opening ceremony continue to linger in the air, playing counterpoint to the voices and energy of the many young participants who attended, and who, for three days, shared the reins of an unusual high-level expert conference, helping to change it into an authentic forum for human dialogue, experience exchange, and commitment for action. At Leading Minds 2019 young people were empowered to talk about mental health issues and renowned international leaders and thinkers respectfully listened to them, to receive guidance and to understand the scope of the problem in different contexts. In so doing, a new model of thought leadership may have been created, from which there may be no turning back.Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, delivering her opening remarks at the Leading Minds 2019 conference at UNICEF Innocenti in Florence, Italy.“Young people talk now about mental health in a way they never did before,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director. “As young people are grappling with these issues – and most of the problems start when you are as young as 14 – we need more science, more from the practitioners, from the young themselves, as well as from country programmes, to understand whether successful options can be scaled up. We need to incorporate mental health into primary health care, as well as build the necessary public and political will.”Link to the special leading minds websiteEmanuela Claudia Del Re, Deputy Minister of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation, which provided principal financial support for the Conference, remarked on the need for early action and evidence-based intervention incorporated within multisectoral interventions, and highlighted the importance of empowering people with mental disorders. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, which co-hosted the conference, after remarking that child mental health is everyone’s business, mentioned four key steps needed to address such a serious challenge: break the silence, eliminate stigma, strengthen services and tend to their needs. “Children living in poverty, or exposed to war, violence at home, or other difficult life situations, are particularly vulnerable,” Dr. Tedros said. “Very few of these young people have access to the mental health services they need. There is no health without mental health.”Dr. Vikram Patel, Pershing Professor of Global Health and Social medicine at Harvard Medical School, inspired the audience by delivering a passionate and probing keynote speech whose words resounded high and clear among the attentive participants of all ages. “We must stop thinking of mental health in binary and biomedical terms only,” he explained. “Everyone, everywhere is on a mental health spectrum. The elephant in the room on global mental health is adverse childhood experiences and we must start talking about it.” Dr Vikram Patel, Pershing Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, delivering the keynote address at Leading Minds 2019 conference at UNICEF Innocenti in Florence, Italy.Dr. Patel’s talk was riveting. One felt it was a master’s degree in global mental health delivered in 30 minutes. He spoke about the lack of focus on youth mental health as a major gap; the complexity of an issue that doesn’t fit simply into a biomedical model; the interaction of environmental factors with developmental processes; the need to look for solutions which lie outside the health sector. He also encouraged researchers to explore new avenues, such as scoping the economic benefits of mental health support for adolescents and youth. Finally, he remarked how answers cannot be found without systematic data on the incidence of mental health among youth.Leading Minds 2019 was truly a symphony of many perspectives, multiple sectors both public and private, civil society, academia. And bringing it all together was the tonal note created by the voice and agency of young people leading the dialogue and holding mental health care-givers accountable.Browse our Facebook Photo Album with many more images from Leading Minds 2019The young advocates - making up a sizable segment of the whole - held the audience spellbound, from the first morning when they described their lived and learned experiences, and how these have fueled them to develop social entrepreneurial models of support for others – including peer support and advocacy. Young mental health advocates participating in the Leading Minds 2019 conference recount lived and learned experiences in coping with mental health challenges and mobilizing action to promote young people's well-being.“Youth don’t want to just be put on a stage,” indigenous youth leader Victor Lopez-Carmen, from the United States said loudly. “They want to be part of processes, so they can go back to their communities and give back.”Youth leaders directed their asks to Leading Minds participants on how to change the game on mental health through better youth participation. “What we need is to absolutely be included and radically accepted,” Lopez-Carmen continued. “We also need to be fully resourced as advocates.”They had very clear ideas about what they wanted. “For the youth mental health agenda to advance,” said Josiah Tualamali’i, co-founder of the Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation Council in New Zealand, “Number one, place the youth voice at highest level. Number two, include stories of hope. Number three, think beyond clinical. And number four, use multiculturally informed approaches. Let’s see if we can all embed these principles.”And to whomever asked why they wanted to participate in Leading Minds 2019, the simple answer of Satvik Sethi, CEO of Runaway App, summed it up: “My personal mission is to make the world happier, and that's why I'm here today". (left to right) Youth advocate Mohammed Zurak of Ghana and Professor Olayinka Omigbodun of Ibadan University, Nigeria in a Leading Minds breakout session on intergrating mental health services into primary health care programmes.During the breakout sessions academics, young activists and policy makers, all tied on ‘Leading Minds aprons’ which injected a light-hearted but powerful visual metaphor of everyone working as equals. Together they confronted the main gaps in evidence, practice and services and shared their proposals to overcome barriers.Professor George Patton of the University of Melbourne shared data gaps in youth mental health indicating only 6.7 per cent global coverage in adolescent mental health prevalence data, with 124 countries having no data at all. He also outlined adolescent brain development and how mental health problems emerged as interaction between developmental processes and the environment. “Better mental health,” he concluded, “begins with better metrics. Not just measurement of mental health, but of risk factors too.”Professor Gordon Harold of the University of Sussex explained the difference between nature vs nurture and the importance of caring parents. “Genes matter, but environment matters too, and they work together to determine the mental health state,” he concluded.Doctor Olyainka Omigbudon from the University of Ibadan talked about a revolution in mental health to firmly put it on public health agenda. “Insecurity in Nigeria grows because mental health has not been addressed,” she said. “The biggest thing we can do is integrate mental health into maternal health care to support children.”Miranda Wolpert, (left) Professor at University College London and mental health lead at Wellcome Trust, moderating at the opening day panel on civil society and foundation action for young people's mental health at the Leading Minds 2019 conference at UNICEF Innocenti in Florence, Italy. Civil society and private foundations shared how they were increasingly involved in advancing research, interventions, and advocacy on mental health of children and youth. Miranda Wolpert of the Wellcome Trust set out 3 key challenges to support young leaders and advocates: 1. Paying young people for their input into our mental health projects; 2. Making young people active voices, not just purveyors of experience; 3. Helping to create career pathways for young advocates.Maria Hauerslev of NCD Child in the United States, remarked on the importance of including young people at all levels. “Adults cannot really capture the reality that adolescents live in. We need to listen to them.”Sarah Kline of United for Global Mental Health in the United Kingdom, focused on how countries must change the way they approach mental health: “Mental health is fragmented. We need a unified voice.”After three days of intensive discussion about pressing issues, challenges and priority actions to better support mental health for young people around the world, the conference drew to a close. Only then did many realize that the co-hosts - UNICEF and WHO - had not dominated the proceedings; in fact, they had consciously pulled back to make space for all sectors and viewpoints to interact and learn.Charlotte Petri Gornitza, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF and Peter Salama, Executive Director for Universal Health Coverage, WHO conduct the final recap and discussion on next steps at Leading Minds 2019 at UNICEF Innocenti in Florence, Italy.It was left to the final moments for leading executives of UNICEF and WHO to sum up. Peter Salama, WHO’s Executive Director for Universal Health Care, thanked youth leaders for all they had taught him over the last three days and recognized their strong leadership during the meeting.Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, suggested that WHO and UNICEF could play a servant leadership role in supporting all stakeholders and linking people, through practice and research, to build a global movement to address global mental health. “Every person in this room has dealt with a mental health issue or has a close friend or family member who has. No one is untouched by it,” she ended. Leonardo Bencini, Minister Plenipotentiary, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation appreciated the high-level discussion held in the conference and reconfirmed the commitment of the Italian Government in supporting the Leading Minds conference to become the rich and powerful face-to-face gathering on pressing issues facing children each year.Chantelle Booysen of The Lancet Commission for Global Mental Health frm South Africa addressing the final plenary recap session of Leading Minds 2019 at UNICEF Innocenti in Florence, Italy. But the most impressive wrap-up speech was delivered by Chantelle Booysen, young mental health advocate from Durban, South Africa, who issued an urgent call for global action to support and protect mental well-being for children and young people. Her three 'quick win' next steps lit up the internet within moments: 1. Full and direct participation of young people; 2. Increase investments in prevention and early intervention; 3. Strengthen mental health education in schools and universities.Read Chantelle Booysen's complete closing remarks in her UNICEF Connect blogLeading Minds 2019 ended where it started, with the words from young leaders who, for three days had been central protagonists of an international gathering, demonstrating active leadership, infecting everyone with their wisdom and passion, and getting equal or greater time on the global stage. Something that no participant will easily forget.(The statements and comments included in this article come from unedited notes of conference rapporteurs and from notes taken by third party participants that were made available to UNICEF Innocenti. The statement attributed to Henrietta Fore has been reproduced from her official prepared remarks for the conference.) 
Florence landmarks 'go blue' to celebrate World Children's Day 2019
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Florence landmarks 'go blue' to celebrate World Children's Day 2019

Brunelleschi's Loggiata degli Innocenti illuminated in blue with a World Children's Day multi-media display projected against it's walls in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 600th anniversary of the Istituto Degli Innocenti and the 30th year since the establishment of UNICEF's Office of Research - Innocenti.(20 November 2019) The City of Florence today joined UNICEF Innocenti and the Istituto degli Innocenti in '#GoBlue,' an initiative launched by UNICEF around the world to celebrate World Children’s Day Iconic Florentine monuments were illuminated in blue: the six ancient gates of the city; the Basilica of S. Miniato; and the facade of the Istituto degli Innocenti. The ‘blue landmarks’ event commemorates the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 600th anniversary of the founding of the Istituto degli Innocenti and the 30th year since establishment of the UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti here in Florence, housed in the same complex as the Istituto.World Children’s Day is commemorated each year on 20 November, the date the Convention was adopted in 1989. The Convention is the most widely ratified UN human rights treaty in history, and has the backing of 196 countries. Italy was among the early signatories of the Convention and has demonstrated its commitment to promoting child rights with through a financial contribution to found and sustain UNICEF’s Office of Research-Innocenti. Washed in blue light, the Loggiato degli Innocenti and the historic monuments of the City of Florence will remind thousands of visitors and residents about the importance of the commitment to children that the world made thirty years ago by approving the Convention. From sunset on 20 November, a multi-media presentation on the theme of World Children’s Day will run continuously until midnight on the original façade of the Istituto degli Innocenti in Piazza SS Annunziata.“Today Florence goes blue, joining cities in Italy and throughout the world in calling for greater attention to children’s rights and a brighter future for all children,” said Priscilla Idele, UNICEF Innocenti Director, a.i “We are especially proud to be part of this huge global initiative, but we are even more proud this year to commemorate 30 years of our presence in Florence, as well as the 600 years of the Istituto degli Innocenti that has hosted us for thirty years.” "The Istituto degli Innocenti, a special place where we have been working to defend the rights of children for 600 years, is perhaps the most suitable place to celebrate World’s Children’s Day in Florence’, remarks Maria Grazia Giuffrida, President of the Istituto degli Innocenti.  “Thanks to UNICEF, this Renaissance loggia in Piazza Santissima Annunziata -- where there is the small window which represents the first care provided by the Istituto -- is going blue on this special evening. This helps us to reflect on what remains to be done to ensure that the rights claimed 30 years ago in the UN Convention are fulfilled for all children of the world. The celebrations of the 600th anniversary of the Istituto degli Innocenti serve to remember us of history of child care and protection that have taken place here. Above all, it allows us to renew our commitment to institutions and cities and regions that support policies in favor of children and adolescents.”"The blue light that today, exceptionally, illuminates the Brunelleschi's Loggia of the Istituto degli Innocenti, reminds us to turn the spotlight onto children and their rights,” states Giovanni Palumbo, Director General of the Istituto degli Innocenti. “I am thinking of the rights of those children who run away from their countries and wars, and who experience incredible suffering and difficulties and are unwillingly forced to become adults before time. Blue is already the color of the Istituto degli Innocenti and is also the color of UNICEF. We therefore hope that blue will increasingly become the color of children and their rights, their hopes, and their future. We will continue to paint blue our thoughts and our concrete daily actions in support of the protection and promotion of the rights of children and adolescents.""The attention to the rights of children and adolescents is fundamental, and days like this are important to keep high the attention on the risks they are exposed to in Italy and everywhere," says City Councilor Sara Funaro. "This year we light up the Basilica of San Miniato, the Istituto degli Innocenti and the ancient city gates as a symbol of the opening and embrace of Florence towards the realization of children's rights. There is a universal consensus about the importance of guaranteeing the rights of the youngest citizens, but unfortunately we still have some work to do because many of them are -- in Italy too -- victims of violence or abuse, discrimination, marginalization or seriously neglected.”Sara Funaro, Councilor of the Municipality of Florence and Priscilla Idele, Director a.i., UNICEF Innocenti, stand in front of the San Miniato al Monte basilica, considered one of the finest Romanesque structures in Tuscany, illuminated in blue as part of UNICEF's #GoBlue campaign to celebrate World Children's Day 2019.According to a new UNICEF report, Every Right For Every Child, launched today, historic and undeniable gains have been made for children in the past three decades. The global mortality rate for children under 5 has decreased by around 60 per cent. The numbers of children of primary-school age who do not go to school decreased from 18 per cent to eight per cent.  Routine immunization coverage reached 86 per cent of children in 2018.But there is still much work to be done to ensure that every child has all of their rights met. Despite the fall in mortality rates, around 15,000 children under of 5 died every day in 2018; more than 1 in 4 children live in countries affected by conflicts or natural disasters; and almost 20 million children are at risk of contracting vaccine-preventable diseases. Moreover, rising inequality, climate change, mental illness, school drop-outs, and online protection represent new challenges for the protection of future generations and of their rights.Children’s rights are universal and timeless, but childhood has changed a lot over the last 30 years, and today children are increasingly the agents of their own future and claiming their rights. We must act on the promise made 30 years ago to ensure no child will be left behind.The World Children's Day "#GoBlue" blue illumination and multi-media display projected onto the walls of the historic Loggiata Degli Innocenti designed by renown Renaissance architecht Filippo Brunelleschi in 1419.A brief ceremony to turn the Loggiato degli Innocenti blue was held in front of the Istituto degli Innocenti in Piazza Santissima Annunziata in Florence. The ceremony was attended by: Maria Grazia Giuffrida, President of the Istituto degli Innocenti; Priscilla Idele, Director a.i, UNICEF Innocenti; Sara Funaro, Councilor for Education, Rights and Equal Opportunities of the Municipality of Florence; Stefania Saccardi, Councilor for Welfare of the Tuscany Region; Eugenio Giani, President of the Regional Council of Tuscany; and Giovanni Palumbo, Director General of the Istituto degli Innocenti.

Publications

Best of UNICEF Research 2019
Publication Publication

Best of UNICEF Research 2019

The Best of UNICEF Research is celebrating its seventh year. Once again, it showcases a collection of the best research undertaken or supported by UNICEF staff and offices around the world. The Best of UNICEF Research exercise has become eagerly anticipated throughout the organization. Staff in country offices particularly welcome the spotlight on work that helps to shape practice, programming and policy for children worldwide. 2019 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and we can see many pressing issues for children and young people, and for UNICEF, reflected in this year's selection of Best of UNICEF Research 2019 finalists.
Growing up in a connected world
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Growing up in a connected world

The internet is becoming a natural part of children’s lives across the globe, but we still lack quality and nationally representative data on how children use the internet and with what consequences. This report underscores that it is possible to collect quality data if the right strategies and investments are in place. Over the past 4 years, the Global Kids Online network has worked with UNICEF and partners around the world to improve the global evidence base on the risks and opportunities for children on the internet. This report provides a summary of the evidence generated from Global Kids Online national surveys in 11 countries. Importantly, most of the evidence comes from children themselves, because it is only by talking to children that we can understand how the internet affects them. By bringing children’s own voices and experiences to the centre of policy development, legislative reform, advocacy, and programme and service delivery, we hope the decisions made in these spheres will serve children’s best interests.
For every child answers: 30 years of research for children at UNICEF Innocenti
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For every child answers: 30 years of research for children at UNICEF Innocenti

The 30 narratives in this publication showcase the range and depth of the work UNICEF Innocenti has undertaken over three decades of existence. In everything we do, our overarching objective is to seek answers to the most pressing challenges for children, and to make the Convention of the Rights of the Child a living reality for every child.
“No Mother Wants Her Child to Migrate” Vulnerability of Children on the Move in the Horn of Africa
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“No Mother Wants Her Child to Migrate” Vulnerability of Children on the Move in the Horn of Africa

Children are moving on an enormous scale in the Horn of Africa. The report highlights how children’s movement is driven by different motivations, exposes children to different forms of harm, and presents multiple barriers to accessing services. As elsewhere in the world, many people in the Horn of Africa are forced or pushed to move by unaddressed vulnerabilities, including poverty, persecution, disruption of their families or exposure to human rights abuses. Once they move, vulnerabilities can be exacerbated by the disruption of social structures and coping mechanisms that would otherwise have a protective effect. Being on the move can disrupt access to services as individuals may be unaware of where to turn in a new location and service providers may, in turn, have difficulty accessing them. These dangers become acute for children, especially those travelling without families. This report is the first in a series of studies in the Horn of Africa aimed at building knowledge to improve Unicef’s programmes which support children on the move. This first qualitative study provides a better understanding of the experiences of these children. It draws on 282 individual interviews and focus group discussions with children and parents on the move, including internally displaced persons, refugees, migrants and returnees. Within each group, the researchers examined why children move and the problems they face when they do. The researchers also examined what structures exist to protect children and whether they are effectively reaching children on the move and responding to the threats these children face. The report also provides recommendations for strengthening child protection systems on the ground.
Are the world’s richest countries family friendly? Policy in the OECD and EU
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Are the world’s richest countries family friendly? Policy in the OECD and EU

Children get a better start in life and parents are better able to balance work and home commitments in countries that have family-friendly policies. These include paid parental leave, support for breastfeeding and affordable, high-quality childcare and preschool education. This report looks at family-friendly policies in 41 high- and middle-income countries using four country-level indicators: the duration of paid leave available to mothers; the duration of paid leave reserved specifically for fathers; the share of children below the age of three in childcare centres; and the share of children between the age of three and compulsory school age in childcare or preschool centres. Sweden, Norway and Iceland are the three most family-friendly countries for which we have complete data. Cyprus, Greece and Switzerland occupy the bottom three places. Ten of the 41 countries do not have sufficient data on childcare enrolment to be ranked in our league table. There is not enough up-to-date information available for us to compare across countries the quality of childcare centres or breastfeeding rates and policies. There is scope for the world’s richest countries to improve their family policies and collect better data.
“Min Ila” Cash Transfer Programme for Displaced Syrian Children in Lebanon (UNICEF and WFP) Impact Evaluation Endline Report
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“Min Ila” Cash Transfer Programme for Displaced Syrian Children in Lebanon (UNICEF and WFP) Impact Evaluation Endline Report

In the 2016–17 school year, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and in coordination with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) in Lebanon, started to pilot a child-focused cash transfer programme for displaced Syrian children in Lebanon. The programme, known as the No Lost Generation (NLG) or “Min Ila” (meaning “from/to”) was designed to reduce negative coping strategies harmful to children and reduce barriers to children’s school attendance, including financial barriers and reliance on child labour. UNICEF Lebanon contracted the American Institute for Research (AIR) to help UNICEF Office of Research (OoR) design and implement an impact evaluation of the programme. The purpose of the impact evaluation, one of the first rigorous studies of a social protection programme supporting children in a complex displacement setting, is to monitor the programme’s effects on recipients and provide evidence to UNICEF, WFP, and MEHE for decisions regarding the programme’s future. This report investigates and discusses the programme’s impacts on child well-being outcomes, including food security, health, child work, child subjective well-being, enrollment, and attendance, after 1 year of programme implementation.
Child-related Concerns and Migration Decisions: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll
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Child-related Concerns and Migration Decisions: Evidence from the Gallup World Poll

Current times are characterized by unprecedented migration levels: millions of people are on the move worldwide. Thus, understanding why people decide to migrate is a major goal of policymakers and international organizations, and migration has become a prominent issue on the global research agenda. Traditional migration drivers can be divided into reasons to leave (‘push’ factors) and reasons to migrate (‘pull’ factors), and include income deprivation, dissatisfaction with public services and institutions in the home country, conflict and war, climate change, and social networks abroad. In this paper, we focus our attention on children’s well-being as a potential migration driver. We investigate it by using the Gallup World Poll, a repeated cross-section dataset of a survey conducted in more than 150 countries from 2006 to 2016. We estimate the association between planned and intended migration and children’s perceived well-being using logit models with standardized coefficients, robust standard errors, and year and country fixed effects. Estimates reveal a positive and statistically significant association between child-related concerns, migration intent and plans. In particular, the probability of individuals having migration intent and plans increases where they report lower levels of satisfaction with child-related issues, as measured by the Youth Development Index, an index driven by indicators of respect for children and satisfaction with the education system. Moreover, children’s well-being affects more individuals living in households with children than those without. Finally, migration is a child- and youth-related phenomenon: young individuals would like to migrate, and plan to do so, more than older individuals.