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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of research and reports
Increasing Women’s Representation in School Leadership: A promising path towards improving learning
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Increasing Women’s Representation in School Leadership: A promising path towards improving learning

Emerging evidence shows a positive association between women school leaders and student performance. Some studies suggest women school leaders are more likely than their male counterparts to adopt effective management practices that may contribute to improved outcomes. However, women remain largely underrepresented in school leadership positions, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. This brief presents emerging insights on the association between women school leaders and education outcomes and draws attention to women’s underrepresentation in school leadership roles. It highlights the need for further research on gender and school leadership to identify policies and practices that can be implemented to increase women’s representation and scale high-quality management practices adopted by women leaders to more schools to improve education outcomes for all children.
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Annual Report 2021
Publication

Annual Report 2021

The UNICEF Innocenti Annual Report 2021 highlights the key results achieved in research and evidence to inform policymaking and programming.
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COVID-19 and the Looming Debt Crisis: Protecting and Transforming Social Spending for Inclusive Recoveries
COVID-19 and the Looming Debt Crisis: Protecting and Transforming Social Spending for Inclusive Recoveries
Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Report

Compounding the COVID-19 pandemic is a looming debt crisis for low- and middle-income countries where a growing debt burden threatens to crowd out social spending for children.

This policy brief explores whether the current support from the international community is enough to maintain spending on basic services during COVID-19. It highlights countries that are most at risk due to high levels of poverty, as well as those less likely to benefit from the G20 Debt Standstill (DSSI). It concludes that a new international debt restructuring architecture, which encompasses the needs of poorer countries, is crucial to protecting children’s rights in the wake of COVID-19. 

Best of UNICEF Research and Evaluation 2020
Best of UNICEF Research and Evaluation 2020
Published: 2020 Miscellanea

Evidence and objective assessment are needed more than ever to help enhance the rights and well-being of the world’s children. Researching the changing world around us and evaluating progress are two sides of the same coin, both critical to reimagining a better future for children. In recognition of this, UNICEF celebrates and showcases innovative and influential research and evaluations from our offices around the world every year. For 2020, Innocenti and the Evaluation Office joined forces to find the most rigorous UNICEF studies with greatest influence on policies and programmes that benefit children.

The Intricate Relationship between Chronic Undernutrition, Impaired Linear Growth and Delayed Puberty: Is ‘catch-up’ growth possible during adolescence?
The Intricate Relationship between Chronic Undernutrition, Impaired Linear Growth and Delayed Puberty: Is ‘catch-up’ growth possible during adolescence?

AUTHOR(S)
Susan Campisi; Bianca Carducci; Olle Söder; Zulfiqar Bhutta

Chronic undernutrition is characterized by long-term exposure to food of insufficient quality and inadequate quantity, including restricted intake of energy, protein, fat, micronutrients, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Physiologically, in a state of chronic food insufficiency, the human body conserves energy by prioritizing essential metabolic processes resulting in impaired linear growth and delayed reproductive maturation. Consequently, height can theoretically be considered a measure of an individual’s cumulative health and nutrition. Therefore, a deviation from the ‘normal’ height relative to one’s age represents a deviation from one’s optimal growth and, potentially, the presence of other issues. Similarly, the delayed onset of puberty is another common physiological response to food insufficiency, often accompanying impaired linear growth. Chronic undernutrition can arise from chronic disease, congenital abnormalities and insufficient food intake. In this review, we will explore the hypothesis of CUG during adolescence, given the relationship between impaired linear growth and the delayed onset of puberty in children suffering from chronic undernutrition due to a lack of sufficient quality and quantity of food.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 32 | Thematic area: Adolescents | Tags: adolescents, growth rate, nutrition
Child Undernourishment, Wash and Policy Synergies in Tunisia: Putting Numbers Into UNICEF’s Conceptual Framework of Nutrition
Child Undernourishment, Wash and Policy Synergies in Tunisia: Putting Numbers Into UNICEF’s Conceptual Framework of Nutrition

AUTHOR(S)
Jose Cuesta; Laura Maratou-Kolias

Published: 2017 Innocenti Working Papers

This paper develops an econometric strategy to operationalize the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF’s) conceptual framework for nutrition, estimating the effects on child stunting that additional investments in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) intervention packages have across population groups (poor and non-poor) and residence (urban and rural). Moving away from estimating single intervention marginal returns, the empirical framework is tested in Tunisia; a country with notable but uneven progress in child nutrition. A successful reduction of stunting will involve mapping the distinctive most effective intervention packages by residence and socioeconomic status, moving away from universal policies.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 26 | Thematic area: Social Policies | Tags: drinking water, hygiene, nutrition, sanitation
Comparing Child-focused SDGs in High-income Countries: Indicator development and overview
Comparing Child-focused SDGs in High-income Countries: Indicator development and overview

AUTHOR(S)
Dominic Richardson; Zlata Bruckauf; Emilia Toczydlowska; Yekaterina Chzhen

Published: 2017 Innocenti Working Papers
The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aim to build on the achievements made under the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by broadening their scope and building upon a consultative process. The MDGs contributed to substantial social progress in eight key areas: poverty; education; gender equality; child mortality; maternal health; disease; the environment; and global partnership. The SDGs not only include a greater number of development goals than the MDGs, but are also global in focus, including advanced economies for the first time. This paper draws attention to the main challenges the 2030 Agenda presents for rich countries, by highlighting a set of critical child specific indicators, evaluating countries’ progress towards meeting the Goals, and highlighting gaps in existing data. The paper will inform UNICEFs Report Card 14, Building the Future: Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries.
Prevention, Protection, and Production: Evidence from the Zambian Child Grant Programme
Prevention, Protection, and Production: Evidence from the Zambian Child Grant Programme

AUTHOR(S)
Audrey Pereira

Published: 2016 Innocenti Research Briefs

The majority of cash transfers in developing countries focus on conditional cash transfers and typically include beneficiary co-responsibilities as a condition for receiving transfers, such as children’s school attendance or growth-monitoring visits. However, in sub-Saharan Africa cash transfer programmes are mostly unconditional, and have the potential to impact households across a wider range of social and productive domains. This Brief summarizes the Zambian Child Grant Programme and looks at the impacts on recipient households.

The Impact of Cash Transfers on Food Security
The Impact of Cash Transfers on Food Security

AUTHOR(S)
Lisa Hjelm

Published: 2016 Innocenti Research Briefs

Vulnerable populations in sub-Saharan African countries often face high levels of food insecurity which disproportionately affect households living in poverty and children are particularly at risk. This review of eight social cash transfer programme evaluations has shown that cash transfers have an impact on several different dimensions of food security. However, few evaluations include child-specific questions and to make stronger links between food security and nutrition status individual-level indicators are needed. Despite limitations, there is good evidence that cash transfers have a large impact on food security.

Best of UNICEF Research 2015
Best of UNICEF Research 2015
Published: 2015 Innocenti Publications
In addition to recognizing high quality research, the Best of UNICEF Research process aims to share findings with UNICEF colleagues and with the wider community concerned with achieving child rights. This year the competition received 99 applications With global reach, the 12 projects in the final selection cover many of the ‘traditional’ areas of UNICEF work (health, nutrition, sanitation and education), while also highlighting issues that have more recently gained prominence within the global policy agenda, such as social transfers, violence against children and school bullying, and various forms of inequality or exclusion. This publication provides summaries of these research projects, including methodology and results.
The Measurement of Food Insecurity among Children: Review of literature and concept note
The Measurement of Food Insecurity among Children: Review of literature and concept note

AUTHOR(S)
Maryah S. Fram; Jennifer Bernal; Edward A. Frongillo

Published: 2015 Innocenti Working Papers
Child food insecurity is associated with a range of negative developmental consequences, including behaviour problems. While research shows that the phenomenon is both common and consequential, there is a lack of consistency in what is being measured and how. This results in incomplete information affecting our ability to effectively address child food insecurity, its causes and consequences. We present a review of the literature, and advocate for a global system to measure and monitor individual children’s experiences of food insecurity. The conceptual and practical challenges for developing an effective, efficient, and feasible system for global monitoring of child food insecurity are discussed and alternatives are suggested.
The Impact of Social Protection on Children: A review of the literature
The Impact of Social Protection on Children: A review of the literature

AUTHOR(S)
Marco Sanfilippo; Bruno Martorano; Chris De Neubourg

Published: 2012 Innocenti Working Papers
Social protection is particularly important for children, in view of their higher levels of vulnerability compared to adults, and the role that social protection can play in ensuring adequate nutrition, access to and utilization of social services. While existing evidence shows that social protection programmes successfully address several dimensions of child well-being -often in an indirect way - a move towards a more "child sensitive" approach to social protection has recently been advocated at the highest level in the international development community.
As crianças que ficam para trás: Uma tabela classificativa da desigualdade no bem-estar das crianças nos países ricos
As crianças que ficam para trás: Uma tabela classificativa da desigualdade no bem-estar das crianças nos países ricos

AUTHOR(S)
Peter Adamson

Published: 2010 Innocenti Report Card
O presente Report Card apresenta uma primeira visão global das desigualdades no bem-estar das crianças em 24 dos países mais ricos do mundo. São examinadas três dimensões da desigualdade: bem-estar material, educação e saúde. Em cada um dos casos e para cada país, a questão que se coloca é "até que ponto estão as crianças a ser deixadas para trás?" O presente relatório defende a ideia de que as crianças merecem ter o melhor começo possível, que as primeiras experiências podem lançar uma longa sombra sobre as suas vidas e que as crianças não podem ser responsabilizadas pelas circunstâncias em que nascem. Neste sentido, o parâmetro utilizado - o grau de desigualdade na base da pirâmide ao nível do bem-estar das crianças - mede os progressos que estão a ser feitos no sentido de uma sociedade mais justa. Reunindo dados relativos à maioria dos países da OCDE, o relatório tenta demonstrar quais destes países estão a deixar que as crianças fiquem para trás mais do que o necessário na educação, saúde e bem-estar material (utilizando os países com melhores desempenhos como padrão mínimo para o que pode ser alcançado). Chamando a atenção para a profundidade das disparidades reveladas, e resumindo o que se sabe sobre as suas consequências, defende-se que o "ficar para trás" é uma questão fundamental, não só para milhões de crianças na actualidade, mas também para o futuro económico e social dos seus países.
The Children Left Behind: A league table of inequality in child well-being in the world's rich countries
The Children Left Behind: A league table of inequality in child well-being in the world's rich countries

AUTHOR(S)
Peter Adamson

Published: 2010 Innocenti Report Card
This Report Card presents a first overview of inequalities in child well-being for 24 of the world’s richest countries. Three dimensions of inequality are examined: material well-being, education, and health. In each case and for each country, the question asked is ‘how far behind are children being allowed to fall?’ The report argues that children deserve the best possible start, that early experience can cast a long shadow, and that children are not to be held responsible for the circumstances into which they are born. In this sense the metric used - the degree of bottom-end inequality in child well-being - is a measure of the progress being made towards a fairer society. Bringing in data from the majority of OECD countries, the report attempts to show which of them are allowing children to fall behind by more than is necessary in education, health and material well-being (using the best performing countries as a minimum standard for what can be achieved). In drawing attention to the depth of disparities revealed, and in summarizing what is known about the consequences, it argues that ‘falling behind’ is a critical issue not only for millions of individual children today but for the economic and social future of their nations tomorrow.
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Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children: Digital technology, play and child well-being
Publication

Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children: Digital technology, play and child well-being

Digital experiences can have significant negative impact on children, exposing them to risks or failing to nurture them adequately. Nevertheless, digital experiences also potentially yield enormous benefits for children, enabling them to learn, to create, to develop friendships, and to build worlds. While global efforts to deepen our understanding of the prevalence and impact of digital risks of harm are burgeoning – a development that is both welcome and necessary – less attention has been paid to understanding and optimizing the benefits that digital technology can provide in supporting children’s rights and their well-being. Benefits here refer not only to the absence of harm, but also to creating additional positive value. How should we recognize the opportunities and benefits of digital technology for children’s well-being? What is the relationship between the design of digital experiences – in particular, play-centred design – and the well-being of children? What guidance and measures can we use to strengthen the design of digital environments to promote positive outcomes for children? And how can we make sure that children’s insights and needs form the foundation of our work in this space? These questions matter for all those who design and promote digital experiences, to keep children safe and happy, and enable positive development and learning. These questions are particularly relevant as the world shifts its attention to emerging digital technologies and experiences, from artificial intelligence (AI) to the metaverse, and seeks to understand their impact on people and society. To begin to tackle these questions, UNICEF and the LEGO Group initiated the Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children (RITEC) project in partnership with the Young and Resilient Research Centre at Western Sydney University; the CREATE Lab at New York University; the Graduate Center, City University of New York; the University of Sheffield; the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child; and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. The research is funded by the LEGO Foundation. The partnership is an international, multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral collaboration between organizations that believe the design and development of digital technology should support the rights and well-being of children as a primary objective – and that children should have a prominent voice in making this a reality. This project’s primary objective is to develop, with children from around the world, a framework that maps how the design of children’s digital experiences affects their well-being, and to provide guidance as to how informed design choices can promote positive well-being outcomes.
Resources to Support Marginalized Caregivers of Children with Disabilities: Guidelines for Implementation
Publication

Resources to Support Marginalized Caregivers of Children with Disabilities: Guidelines for Implementation

Support from caregivers is critical for children’s learning both at home and at school. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and disruption of education systems globally created additional expectations for parents to support their children’s learning at home. This particularly affected the most marginalized children as the crises exacerbated already existing inequalities in education. This document introduces the approach and purpose of a set of resources to support the marginalized caregivers of children with disabilities with inclusive education. It presents lessons learned from proof-of-concept pilots in Armenia and Uzbekistan, followed by step-by-step guidelines on how to adopt and adapt the resources for education ministries and others who want to implement them in their education system.
Reopening with Resilience: Lessons from Remote Learning during COVID-19: Europe and Central Asia
Publication

Reopening with Resilience: Lessons from Remote Learning during COVID-19: Europe and Central Asia

When schools started closing their doors due to COVID-19, countries in Europe and Central Asia quickly provided alternative learning solutions for children to continue learning. More than 90 per cent of countries offered digital solutions to ensure that education activities could continue. However, lack of access to digital devices and a reliable internet connection excluded a significant amount of already marginalized children and threatened to widen the existing learning disparities. This report builds on existing evidence highlighting key lessons learned during the pandemic to promote learning for all during school closure and provides actionable policy recommendations on how to bridge the digital divide and build resilient education systems in Europe and Central Asia.

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