Social policy

A fair chance for every child

a mother and father with their baby in Chiang Mai, Thailand
UNICEF/2016/Thuentap

Rapid economic growth has transformed the region, bringing with it remarkable social achievements. Yet, the progress has been unequal. More than 100 million children in the poorest decile alone are stunted, not immunised, deprived of quality education and other essential services.

Rapid economic growth has transformed the region, yet more than 100 million of the poorest children are being left behind

Rita Iriati, her 3-year-old daughter, Novita, on her lap, sits smiling near the entrance to their home, in the village of Kemalang in Klaten District, Central Java Province, Indonesia
UNICEF/UN04255/Estey

UNICEF Social Policy is supporting governments to develop more effective and equitable social and economic policies to help realise the rights of all children.

Social policy in this region has three main focus areas:

Leveraging national policies and budgets for children


As most countries in the region have moved towards middle-income status, development assistance has decreased dramatically, to only one thousandth of regional income (GNI). All of the heavy lifting of financing services for children and their families now falls to national governments. UNICEF Social Policy is working directly with key budget decision makers - especially through partnerships with Ministries of Finance - to ensure that public finance delivers results for children, through effective and equitable social sector spending.

Strengthening national social protection systems


UNICEF Social Policy supports governments in building child-sensitive social protection systems to protect children and their families from economic and environmental shocks. Social protection is a multi-sectoral approach, key to addressing child poverty and promoting more equitable growth by enabling the most disadvantaged and marginalised to access basic social services. Developing governments' capacity to monitor and assess the situation of children is the basis for better targeting national policies to meet the needs of children. 

Realizing children's rights in decentralised environments

Decentralization reforms have shifted more and more responsibilities to sub-national governments. UNICEF Social Policy works with national and sub-national actors to enhance equity through fairer resource allocations and effective, child-focused, sub-national planning and budgeting. UNICEF's presence at the local level supports efforts to build local capacity and strengthen the participation of local communities.