A World Fit for Children Plus 5

‘Progress for Children’ – UNICEF launches five-year report on Special Session goals

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© UNICEF/HQ07-1929/Markisz
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman addresses a Town Hall meeting on the findings of the ‘Progress for Children’ statistical review, which details advances made in health, education, and protection since the 2002 UN Special Session for Children.

By Elizabeth Kiem

NEW YORK, USA, 10 December 2007 – Five years after world leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children, UNICEF today launched ‘Progress for Children: A World Fit for Children Statistical Review’.

The report details the advances made to date towards creating ‘A World Fit for Children’ – the vision of the outcome document from the historic 2002 Special Session.

“This is the most comprehensive ‘Progress for Children’ report to date,” UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman told participants in a Town Hall meeting at UNICEF House today.

“Measurable outcomes based on the best available data underpin UNICEF’s approach in accelerating progress for children,” she added. “Good news informs decisions about where to invest and about what policies and programmes deliver the best results.”

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/HQ07-1930/Susan Markisz
Ann M. Veneman (centre) with (left to right) Committee on the Rights of the Child Chair Dr. Yanhee Lee, UNAIDS Executive Director Dr. Peter Piot, Professor Ernesto Schiefelbein and Plan International Regional Director Dr. Deepali Khanna.

Achievements since 2002

The open forum featured a panel of experts, including UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot, Yanhee Lee of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Deepali Khanna of Plan International and Ernesto Schiefelbein of the Education Research and Development Centre.

Also present were representatives of over 50 non-governmental organizations, who were encouraged to comment on the report and share their experiences in working in a wide range of programmes for children.

Young delegates to this week’s UNICEF-sponsored Youth Forum also joined the discussion. “We welcome this … report, which shows the achievements the world has made since we last met in 2002,” said Rita Sobral, 17, from Portugal.

Child survival, health and HIV/AIDS

Structured around the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, currently the focus of international aid efforts, ‘Progress for Children: A World Fit for Children Statistical Review’ targets four strategic areas: promoting healthy lives; providing a quality education; protecting children against abuse, exploitation and violence; and combating HIV and AIDS.

Among its many findings, ‘Progress for Children’ shows dramatic improvement made in reducing the mortality rate for children under the age of five, which dropped below 10 million in 2006 for the first time on record.

But the report finds less improvement on the goal of expanding treatment coverage for major childhood diseases such as pneumonia and malaria.

More work is also needed to combat HIV/AIDS, as the number of people living with HIV continues to rise globally. In particular, only 11 per cent of pregnant women living with HIV in low and middle-income countries receive treatment to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to their infants.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/HQ06-0412/Pirozzi
Johnson Maisiri, 16, leads a group discussion about living with HIV at a secondary school in Zimbabwe. UNICEF assists this and other peer support groups for children affected by HIV/AIDS.

Education progress and challenges

One of the most heartening findings of the ‘Progress for Children’ report is that many countries are close to providing universal primary education, meaning that the number of primary-school-age children out of school has declined markedly in recent years. In more than 60 developing countries, primary school enrolment reaches or exceeds 90 per cent.

But enrolment rates, however high, do not guarantee satisfactory attendance rates. In eastern and southern Africa, for example, attendance rates are believed to be as much as 13 per cent lower than enrolment.

Data on secondary school attendance is also a concern. Only 60 per cent of the world’s children of the appropriate age attend secondary school.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/HQ07-0749/Noorani
Girls study together at a village school in Syria attended by Palestinian refugees from Iraq together with local Syrian children. UNICEF provides the school with water and sanitation facilities as well as other essential supplies.

Improved data collection

UNICEF has supported enhanced data collection, another priority identified during the Special Session, to compile ‘Progress for Children’.

“Just over the last 10 years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the availability of data for monitoring the situation of women and children in the developing world,” said UNICEF’s Chief of Strategic Information Management, Tessa Wardlaw. “It is this influx of new data that has allowed us to conduct this very comprehensive assessment of progress for children, which covers such a broad range of topics with the most up-to-date information.”

Before the mid-1990s, critical gaps in data hindered accurate analysis in many key areas – such as child protection from abuse, exploitation and violence.

Since 1995, nearly 200 Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) initiated by UNICEF have been carried out in 100 countries and territories, and MICS were implemented in more than 50 countries in 2005-06. Together with the data provided by USAID-supported Demographic and Health Surveys, these surveys constitute the largest single source of MDG information to date.


 

 

Video

10 December 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Elizabeth Kiem reports on the Town Hall meeting of experts, advocates and young people discussing ‘Progress for Children’.
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9 December 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Elizabeth Kiem highlights the findings of ‘Progress for Children: A World Fit for Children Statistical Review’.
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