25 years of research on child rights at Ospedale degli Innocenti
UNICEF is well known for its role in responding to complex humanitarian crises affecting children around the world. The work of the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, based at the 600-year-old Ospedale degli Innocenti, in Florence, Italy rarely hits world headlines. Yet over the quarter century of its existence UNICEF at Innocenti has produced ground-breaking analytical work which has informed action and shifted global development discourse on critical child rights issues.In order to mark its 25th Anniversary, the Office recently convened a special anniversary seminar to reflect on achievements and look toward future directions for research at Innocenti. In its historic Renaissance surroundings former directors and senior researchers, together with a constellation of local and national Italian partners, shared their experiences and insights. On behalf of the Italian Government, the Office’s most generous financial donor, Luca Zelioli, First Counsellor, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, delivered opening remarks.
Almost half of all women in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are married before eighteen. Globally, adolescents are two times more likely to be out of school than primary school aged children. Nearly eight million 15-24-year-olds in Europe are not in education, employment or training.Is it time to ask the question: “Are we failing adolescents?”
Supporting families and parents in a rapidly changing world
In China about 100 million children have parents who migrate away from home in search of employment. Some of these children accompany their parents, usually from a rural village to a strange new urban world. Most of these children – about 60 million of them – remain at home, supported and cared for by grandparents, neighbours or friends.In China, and across the globe, traditional notions of family and parenting are long gone. Family can no longer be defined as the biological nuclear family or even by relation through kinship.
Evidence from Africa shows cash transfers increase school enrollment
An estimated 63 million adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 are currently out of school, according to a recent report by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and UNICEF. This is a staggering number, and the barriers to school enrolment–poverty, conflict, gender discrimination, and child labour–are not easy to overcome.However, researchers are helping to identify what works in social protection to increase secondary school enrolment in Africa, particularly among the poorest, rural households – groups that were highlighted as having the greatest need in the new report.
Multidimensional Child Poverty in sub-Saharan Africa
A new working paper called ‘Analysing child poverty and deprivation in sub-Saharan Africa’ has been published by the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti. The paper uses a framework called ‘MODA’ designed to measure multidimensional poverty specifically for children within and across countries. We caught up with Sudhanshu Handa, Chief of Social and Economic Policy at the UNICEF Office of Research to learn about the paper’s new findings and the strategy behind its unique analysis.
Impact evaluations reap long term benefits for children
We have an obligation to invest where it makes the most difference for children. But how do we decide what will reap the greatest benefits in the long term?The dilemma of whether to invest in services that provide immediate benefits, or in evidence generating initiatives for the long term, is a difficult one. The answer requires a careful analysis of the cost of not addressing immediate needs versus the potential future benefits of policy and budgetary change brought about by research and advocacy.
UNICEF staff are so preoccupied with the increasingly complex task of assisting the most vulnerable children that they don’t often realize the extent and quality of research their offices and programmes throughout the world carry out.UNICEF is actually a major global research organization with hundreds of research projects carried out each year to underpin its programmes, policy and advocacy work. Its work addresses new and emerging development challenges, and advances knowledge on children with relevance often well beyond the local country context.
Children of the Recession – The “Great Leap Backward”
Just over six years since the sudden collapse of Lehman Brothers, the global economic crisis still makes news throughout the world. The impact on households goes beyond headlines. Hardly any family has not felt the pain of the Great Recession. Children of course experience it most acutely. They are also at greatest risk of suffering lasting damage from it.
Climate change – why a children’s rights perspective matters
Climate change is not only about weather. Climate change is about people, their rights and future. A truly global challenge of our time.The world is struggling with huge problems like poverty eradication, conflict and discrimination. The majority of people living on Earth still lack decent conditions of life and protection of their fundamental rights. How can climate change matter? How can the rights of future generations become a priority?Perhaps there will always be challenges considered more immediate. But what if we start interpreting climate change as a global phenomenon of inter-generational justice? Action, or better, inaction, becomes a form of injustice which feeds on and perpetuates inequality, and forces those who are least responsible to pay the highest price: in decades to come. Future generations will have no choice but to swallow whole the injustices of current generations towards them.Climate change should be forcing us to balance the rights and claims of persons living today against those of persons in the future. The ethical construct of inter-generational justice could help us find answers for some of the most pressing questions about governance of resources, the rights of children and environmental sustainability. The new report The Challenges of Climate Change: Children on the Front Linepublished by the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, contains an illuminating discussion which could help us approach the defining issue of our times.Climate change challenges children’s rights by threatening their fundamental condition: our planet. Human action is putting a strain on planetary boundaries, without being able to predict with certainty the final consequences for the generations yet unborn. In a world where the world itself is at risk, perhaps inter-generational justice is an idea whose time has come.Forecasts do not allow any reasonable prediction beyond 2100. Sceptics may say that it is too far in the future for concern today. From a children’s rights perspective; however, minimizing that degree of uncertainty is the ultimate reason for struggling every day for their full recognition and realization. Children are the largest and most vulnerable group to the effects of climate change.
Cash transfers in Africa – generating evidence on the impact
The Great Recession of 2008 prompted many traditional donor countries to cut back foreign aid budgets. Pressure from lawmakers is now greater than ever for aid dollars to go further, and for development programmes to prove that aid is linked to tangible changes in the lives of children in the poorest regions of the world. Well, it turns out that one of the most effective of all ways of changing the lives of the poor could be handing out cash.That’s right. For a long time now the development world has been looking into the benefits of various methods of simply giving the poorest families cash. One theory is that rather than investing large amounts in costly and wasteful State bureaucracies, delivering small amounts of cash to materially deprived households could be a much more efficient and flexible way to provide aid directly where it is needed most. Now, especially in Africa, data is piling up which may prove the theory right.
EU youth: not in employment, education or training
7.5 million young people aged 15-24 — roughly the total population of Switzerland — were not in employment, education or training (referred to as ‘NEET’) across the European Union in 2013. In Greece alone it was one in five, nearly a quarter of a million young people.The UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti will later this year release Report Card #12: Impact of the Great Recession on children in rich countries presenting among other topics a wealth of information on how a generation of young people is slipping further and further away from the kind of productive adulthood taken for granted by their parents.
Youth in Zambia: using U-Report to take charge of their futures
I met Josephine earlier this year, a bright 21-year-old young woman from a country where 68 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line and three young people become infected with HIV every hour, two of them being girls. That’s an average of 72 young people infected per day, and 27,000 per year. These numbers are strong enough to declare a national health emergency by any definition.In Josephine’s country, despite the seriousness of the situation, less than 40 per cent of young people have detailed information or knowledge about HIV/AIDS, with lower levels among girls. Poverty and HIV/AIDS have become mutually reinforcing and are perpetuating a cycle of suffering for children and youth that seems endless.The country I’m referring to is Zambia.