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UNICEF/95-0839/Lemoyne

Two Macedonian children playing in the leaves on the grounds of a UNICEF- supported institution for those with mental disabilities in Skopje.

 

 

 

The best time to start ensuring a full life is as early as possible.

A cycle of hope and change

There is a strategic approach to realizing the rights of children and women with great potential for cutting through the cycles of deprivation, disease, violence and discrimination that currently drain the lives and spirits of children and adolescents around the globe. This approach would assure all infants the best possible chance for their survival, growth and development. It would promise that all children are ready for school and all schools are ready for children. And it would insist that children and adolescents be given the opportunity to participate in and contribute to their societies.

Such an approach is grounded in the knowledge that all stages of child development are linked and that the best time to start ensuring a full life is as early as possible. A healthy baby will likely become a physically and mentally strong child ready for school and later learning. That strong child will likely grow to be a contributing adolescent, more apt to continue with education, delay marriage, defer childbirth, avoid high-risk pregnancy and later set a sound foundation for the next generation of children. Investing in children from their very earliest moments displaces negative patterns in a society and allows cycles of hope and change to have their turn.

If a country hopes to loosen the strangleholds to development that are currently wrapped tightly around the lives of families, then it must do four, equally essential things, at the same time.

1. It must continue to make child survival a priority.

2. It must assure that surviving children are healthy and possess the skills to thrive and to live full and productive lives.

3. It must prepare parents for their pivotal role in childcare and build the capacities of communities to support them.

4. It must create a society that is free from violence and discrimination at all levels and that values the lives and contributions of children and women.

Country profile: Jamaica

Panel 5. Paternity leave, baths and evil spirits

 

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