We’re building a new UNICEF.org.
As we swap out old for new, pages will be in transition. Thanks for your patience – please keep coming back to see the improvements.



Children in Pakistan face a variety of serious challenges, from malnutrition and poor access to education and health facilities, to exploitation through child labour and child marriage. Their low status in society can leave them victims of daily violence at home and in school, as well as organized trafficking and sexual exploitation. Girls are especially affected as conservative attitudes may impede them attending school, and many are subject to early marriage with consequences on their rights, health and education.

Natural disasters, conflict, economic crisis and political turmoil have increased the vulnerability of thousands of children. In 2008 and 2009, conflict displaced some 2 million people, 65 per cent of them children. Also affecting many Pakistanis were food insecurity and natural disasters, including a devastating earthquake that killed an estimated 73,000 people in 2005, leaving 3.3 million homeless.

Issues facing children in Pakistan

  • Pakistan's maternal mortality ratio is about 276 per 100,000 live births, compared to 17 per 100,000 in the United States.
  • Nearly 1 in 10 children does not survive his or her fifth birthday, with the majority of deaths due to diarrhoea, pneumonia or vaccine-preventable diseases.
  • Almost 40 per cent of children under five are underweight and lack household sanitation, especially in rural areas.
  • Pakistan's per capita expenditure on health is only US$18, of which US$4 is public expenditure, compared to the recommended US$45. Less than 2.5 per cent of GDP is spent on education, compared to the recommended 2.8 to 3.6 per cent.
  • About a third of Pakistani children aged between five and nine are enrolled in primary education. Only 51 per cent of girls are enrolled in primary school, compared to 60 per cent of boys. Of those enrolled, two-thirds of girls and almost half of boys do not complete primary school.
  • Only 42 per cent of Pakistani women are literate, and the proportion falls to 7 per cent in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
  • An estimated 3.3 million children under the age of 14 work, many in exploitative and hazardous labour.
  • Food and economic crises have increased food insecurity. Prices of essential food items rose over 35 per cent in 2007-08, compared to an 18 per cent increase in labour wages.
  • Ongoing conflict in the north-west has displaced some 2 million people since 2008, with most displaced since April 2009. About a tenth of those displaced live in camps for internally displaced people.

Activities and results for children

  • Polio cases dropped from 1,100 cases in 1997 to 118 in 2008. Regular vaccination campaigns reach 95 per cent of targeted children (32 million) at least four times a year.
  • More than 29 million children under five receive vitamin A supplements twice a year.
  • In April 2008, Pakistan completed the world's largest catch-up campaign, which immunized over 63 million children against measles.
  • Over half a million girls were enrolled in school for the first time in 25 UNICEF-assisted districts from 2005 to 2007. In target districts of Sindh Province, enrolment increased by 78 per cent between 2007 and 2008.
  • UNICEF works with authorities to improve water quality, promote household latrines and hygiene, and support school water and sanitation. Over 80,000 children including 62,000 girls, received sanitation facilities in school.
  • Through biannual health and sanitation weeks and other awareness drives, 12 million people have been reached with messages and services on health, nutrition and hygiene.
  • A Child Protection Act has been drawn up with UNICEF support. When approved, it will criminalize abuse and violence against children, raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 7 to 12 years and ban corporal punishment.
  • Since 2005, more than 62,000 vulnerable children, including those who live or work on the streets, have been provided with protective services through drop-in centres and help lines.
  • UNICEF works with government and partners to provide emergency relief, services and information to some 2 million people displaced by conflict. This is the first time many families from remote, conservative regions have been reached with messages and services for education, child and maternal health, hygiene and child protection.



Basic Indicators

Under-5 mortality rank


Under-5 mortality rate (U5MR), 1990


Under-5 mortality rate (U5MR), 2012


U5MR by sex 2012, male


U5MR by sex 2012, female


Infant mortality rate (under 1), 1990


Infant mortality rate (under 1), 2012


Neonatal mortality rate 2012


Total population (thousands) 2012


Annual no. of births (thousands) 2012


Annual no. of under-5 deaths (thousands) 2012


GNI per capita (US$) 2012


Life expectancy at birth (years) 2012


Total adult literacy rate (%) 2008-2012*


Primary school net enrolment ratio (%) 2008-2011*


Definitions and data sources [popup]

Source: The State of the World's Children

New enhanced search