Situation of Children and Women in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 2019

The SitAn 2019 informs equity-focused humanitarian programming and advocacy for children and women drawing on an extensive joint analysis of latest data and contextual developments

Silas Rapold


The Analysis of the Situation of Children and Women in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 2019 documents significant improvements in key indicators of child survival compared to previous data, with a high degree of equity in most basic service indicators. Over the past decade, DPR Korea, with the support of United Nations (UN) agencies and other humanitarian partners, has made significant improvements in implementing child rights, despite facing severe economic and humanitarian challenges made worse by changing climatic conditions, stringently enforced economic sanctions and relatively limited overseas development assistance.

In particular, there has been strong improvement in indicators of infant and under-five mortality and malnutrition. Challenges remain in the areas of neonatal and maternal mortality, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis and services for children with disabilities, including disability inclusive education. Significant inequities exist between rural and urban areas, socioeconomic statuses, provinces and genders in access to services and social outcomes. There is still substantial room for improvement in the quality of services.

Most significant challenges remaining include stunting fueled by, among other factors, inadequate intake of a minimum acceptable diet. Despite considerable improvement over the years, stunting is still relatively high, driven in part by high levels of diarrhoea due to unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation and excreta management. Only 61 per cent of households and 45 per cent of rural households in DPR Korea have access to safely managed water. A compounding factor is the unsafe disposal of a considerable proportion from excreta of on-site sanitation facilities. This practice often leads to contamination of drinking water sources. Low consumption of iodized salt is also recognized as a public health challenge while access to higher education overall – but especially for young women – remains a barrier to advancement. In the area of child protection, the acceptance of violence against children and the number of children living in situations of inadequate care are still high. Concluding observations from the treaty bodies for the Convention on the Rights of the Child (September 2017) and Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (November 2017) highlight a wide range of additional areas in urgent need of attention to ensure the equitable achievement of children’s and women’s rights

This Situation Analysis is based on an analysis of the outcomes of a comprehensive literature review complemented by a series of key informant interviews and group consultations carried out in collaboration with Government, other UN agencies and humanitarian partners, to better ground the process in the realities of the country.

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