Australia, UN Agencies Launch Phase III of Flagship 15-Year Study on Filipino Children

Joint Press Release

10 October 2023
LCSFC phase 2 launch
2023

MANILA, 10 Oct. 2023 — Ahead of the International Day of the Girl Child, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in partnership with the Australian Government, the United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and  the University of San Carlos - Office of Population Studies (USC-OPS), launched the Phase III implementation of the Longitudinal Cohort Study on the Filipino Child. This unique study tracked the development of Filipino children over 15 years.  It followed the same group of 5,000 children from age 10 in 2016 until the end of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2030.

“This [launch] and this study is a timely reminder of the importance of investing in the health, education, and well-being of adolescent girls,” said UNFPA Country Representative Dr. Leila Joudane. “We are at that crucial point in time when the children covered by the study are going through the tumultuous and crucial period of adolescence, when they develop knowledge and skills, learn to manage emotions and relationships, and acquire abilities that will be important for them as they become productive members of society.”

Thanh Le PSM, the Australian Embassy’s Development Counsellor, emphasised the importance of the greater dissemination of the study’s findings to help inform policymakers address the needs of Filipino children and girls. “This study will help put girls at the centre of decision-making efforts, which aligns with Australia’s International Development Policy that also prioritises addressing gender equality.  And so Australia is pleased to announce our continued support for a third phase of the Filipino child Cohort Study.”

 “As we launch the third phase of the Longitudinal Cohort Study on the Filipino Child and celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child, we remember all the girls who are still unable to complete their education, access comprehensive health and nutrition services, and live free from gender-based violence and harmful practices. As girls call for change, we must move beyond reaffirming commitments and make bold investments for their rights”, UNICEF Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov said.

During the launch, researchers from USC-OPS shared key findings from the study. They pointed out that girls fared better during the first six years of the study – for example:

  • During their earlier years, teenage boys are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as smoking and drinking alcohol than teenage girls. At age 13 to 14, 7.7% of boys have tried smoking, compared to only 2.5% of girls. Similarly, 21.8% of boys have tried drinking alcohol, compared to 12.8% of girls.
  • In terms of education, at age 16, girls are more likely to be on track with their schooling than boys (85% of girls vs. 75% of boys). This means more girls were in age-appropriate grades, were not delayed or repeated a school year.

The researchers noted, however, that the study also shows the unique challenges related to gender norms and stereotypes that could significantly impact the futures of girls.

  •  Data gathered at age 15 to 16 of the respondents showed that 2.6% of the girls have already experienced early pregnancy while 3% are already cohabiting or living with their partners, compared to only 1% of the boys.
  • And while the majority are asked to perform household chores, unequal gender norms or stereotypes are observed as girls spend more time (40% more) on such tasks when compared to boys. This might mean they have less time for studying or rest. 

“We already know from other national studies that women are less likely to be able to participate economically and in decision-making during adulthood. Our cohort study aims to learn why this happens and what factors contribute to girls losing their edge as they reach adulthood. We are hopeful that the study will generate insights that will help stakeholders provide solutions and enable women to realize their full potential,” said one of the study’s researchers Dr. Nanette Lee-Mayol, Director of the University of San Carlos - Office of the Population Studies Foundation, Inc.

As the sexual and reproductive health agency of the United Nations, UNFPA pointed out that ensuring that adolescent girls “have access to comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services will benefit not just their adult life but also our society and the next generation of children.”

Joudane said the challenge for them now is to work closely with the government and other development partners to use the rich data and information from the study to reduce the structural barriers to services for adolescents and to address factors that cause high rates of adolescent pregnancy, child marriage, mental health disorders and violence against girls.

Media contacts

Marge Francia
Advocacy & Communication Specialist
UNICEF Philippines
Tel: +63 917 858 9447
Kristine Sabillo Guerrero
UNFPA Philippines
Tel: +639175691449

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in the Philippines, visit www.unicef.ph.

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