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The State of the World's Children

Searchable PDF archive

Launched in 1980, The State of the World’s Children is the most comprehensive analysis of global trends affecting children. Each year the report examines a key issue for children and presents in an accessible format up-to-date economic and social statistics on the countries and territories of the world, with particular reference to children’s well-being. In keeping with UNICEF’s broader mandate, The State of the World’s Children has become not only a major reference source of information on children worldwide, but also a leading advocacy tool for those working to realize children’s rights.

Listed below are downloadable and searchable full-text versions – in PDF format – of all The State of the World’s Children reports issued by UNICEF between 1980 and 2007.

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The State of the World's Children 2007: Women and Children – The double dividend of gender equality examines the discrimination and disempowerment women face throughout their lives – and outlines what must be done to eliminate gender discrimination and empower women and girls. The report examines the status of women today and the impact of gender discrimination on children. It argues that gender equality will move all the Millennium Development Goals forward and that investment in women’s rights – through education, financing, legislation, legislative quotas, engaging men and boys, women empowering women and improved research and data – will ultimately produce a double dividend: advancing the rights of both women and children.

The State of the World's Children 2006: Excluded and invisible is a sweeping assessment of the world's most vulnerable children, whose rights to a safe and healthy childhood are exceptionally difficult to protect. The report describes in detail how these children - poor, exploited and abused - are being ignored, growing up beyond the reach of development campaigns and often invisible in everything from public debate and legislation to statistics and news stories.

The State of the World’s Children 2005: Childhood under threat focuses on childhood, defined as a time for children to grow and develop to their full potential. The Convention of the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989, offers a new definition of childhood based on human rights. Yet for hundred of millions of children the promise of childhood that underlies the Convention appears broken as poverty, armed conflict and HIV/AIDS threaten their survival and development. The report examines these three key threats in detail, and offers a comprehensive agenda of action to combat them. It concludes by calling on all stakeholders – governments, donors, international agencies, as well as communities, families, business and individuals – to reaffirm and recommit to their moral and legal responsibilities to children.

The State of the World's Children 2004: Girls, education and development focuses on girls’ education and its relationship to all other development goals and to the promise of Education For All. It presents the education of girls as one of the most crucial issues facing the international community and presents a multilayered case for investing in girls’ education as a strategic way to ensure the rights of both boys and girls, to maximize benefits for families and nations and to advance the world’s development agenda. The report is a call to action on behalf of the millions of children denied their right to an education, most of whom are girls.

The State of the World's Children 2003: Child participation reports on child participation - the right of every child to have their opinions taken into account when decisions are being made that affect them, the responsibility of governments, organizations and families, and a way to promote tolerance, respect for human rights, an appreciation of diversity and peace. The report showcases examples of meaningful child participation from every region of the world. Photos and artwork are by children.

The State of the World's Children 2002: Leadership is about the leadership that was needed to turn commitments made at the 1990 World Summit for Children into actions that improved the lives of children and families. It is also about the leadership that is necessary now and into the future in order to ensure the right of every child to live in peace, health and dignity. Presenting models of leadership from individuals and agencies, organizations and alliances, the report spotlights the 'Say Yes for Children' campaign and the UN Special Session on Children.

The State of the World’s Children 2001: Early childhood discusses how what happens during the very earliest years of a child’s life, from birth to age three, influences how the rest of childhood and adolescence unfolds. Drawing on reports from the world over, the report describes the daily lives of parents and caregivers who are striving – in the face of war, poverty and the AIDS epidemic – to protect the rights and meet the needs of these young children. It makes the case for investing in the earliest years of childhood when brain development is most malleable and rights are most vulnerable and argues that that, in the long run, investment in ECD pays off – not only for children, their parents and caregivers, but for the progress of nations as a whole.

The State of the World’s Children 2000: A vision for the 21st century seeks to fan the flame that burned so brilliantly for children when world leaders adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989 and then confirmed their commitments for children and adolescents at the 1990 World Summit for Children. It summarizes the progress made over the last decade of the twentieth century and discusses four daunting obstacles to realizing children’s rights and meeting the goals established at the World Summit for Children: HIV/AIDS, armed conflict and violence, poverty and gender discrimination.
It then calls on leaders in industrialized and developing countries alike to reaffirm their promises for children. It calls for vision and leadership within families and communities, where the respect for the rights of children and women is first born and nurtured and where the protection of those rights begins. And it calls to all people to realize a new dream within a single generation: a shared vision of children and women - indeed of humankind - freed from poverty and discrimination, freed from violence and disease.

The State of the World’s Children 1999: Education shows how, with the Convention on the Rights of the Child as a guiding framework, governments, policy makers, educators, community leaders, parents and children themselves are advancing an education revolution; their goal, "Education For All." The report addresses the challenges encountered and the progress made by the international community as it strives to reach this goal. It sets forth a vision of education as a human right and a force for social change; as the single most vital element in combating poverty, empowering women, safe-guarding children from exploitative and hazardous labour and sexual exploitation, promoting human rights and democracy, protecting the environment and controlling population growth; and as a path towards international peace and security. The report proposes that education is one of the best investments a country can make in order to prosper.

The State of the World’s Children 1998: Nutrition details the scale of malnutrition and the steps being taken to stem it. It argues that malnutrition is largely a silent and invisible emergency, exacting a terrible toll on children and their families. The result of multiple causes, including a lack of food, common and preventable infections, inadequate care and unsafe water, it plays a role in more than half of the nearly 12 million deaths each year of children under five. Malnutrition blunts intellects and saps the productivity and potential of entire societies. Poverty, one of the causes of malnutrition, is also a consequence, a tragic bequest by malnourished parents to the next generation. Building on both the experience gained and the scientific knowledge achieved, the report recalls the world’s obligation to protect children’s right to adequate nutrition and suggests that action is both possible and imperative.

The State of the World's Children 1997: Child labour focuses on this controversial, complex and challenging issue, and asserts that thoughtful and comprehensive attempts at solution must be guided by the best interests of the child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The report urges an immediate end to hazardous and exploitative child labour, and advocates urgent support for education, so that children may acquire knowledge and skills to improve their lives.

The State of the World's Children 1996: 50th anniversary issue marks the 50th anniversary year of UNICEF. As such, it provides a good sense of where UNICEF has been, of its current priorities and, to the extent possible, of where it is headed. The report begins by proposing an agenda against war as a vital step to prevent and alleviate all suffering of children in armed conflict. It then takes a historical perspective and looks at what has changed since UNICEF was established in 1946. It reviews the efforts of UNICEF in its first half-century to support children afflicted not only by war, but also by the silent emergencies of poverty and preventable disease.

The State of the World's Children 1995 has as its centrepiece an account of what is being achieved following the specific promises that were made by world leaders at the 1990 World Summit for Children. Set against the backdrop of genocide in Rwanda, the report examines key threats to human security – including economic exclusion and political instability – that deprive millions of children of the right to develop fully in mind and body. It highlights key strategies behind progress that has been made and calls upon the upcoming 1995 World Summit for Social Development to break down the broad challenges of the global development consensus into doable propositions.

The State of the World's Children 1994 summarizes the progress being made against the major threats to the health and nutrition of children in the world’s poorest communities and outlines the potential for further advances in the near future. It sets this progress and potential in the context of three key obstacles to human development: poverty, population growth, and environmental deterioration. The report calls for a renewed focus on the cause of meeting the most basic needs of all children, both for its own sake and as an essential step towards resolving the key problems of poverty, population growth, and environmental deterioration.

The State of the World's Children 1993 notes that the means to end mass malnutrition, preventable disease and widespread illiteracy among the world’s children are available. The report advocates for a worldwide movement to protect children from the worst aspects of poverty and argues that such movement would strengthen efforts to promote environmental protection, sustainable economic growth, gender equality, and political stability. It calls for the involvement of all sectors of the global society, including governments, the media, health and education professionals, and non-governmental organizations.

The State of the World's Children 1992 is offered, from the particular perspective of UNICEF’s experience in working with some of humanity’s most acute problems , as a contribution to the debate on the new world order which is struggling to be born. The report submits 10 specific propositions which, taken together, add up to a proposal that ending the extreme poverty of one quarter of the world’s people should be a top priority on the agenda of the new world order. The report urges world leaders to honour their commitments to children undertaken at the 1990 World Summit for Children. It also stresses the importance of mobilizing all possible social resources behind the commitments that have been made and calls on all concerned organizations and individuals to become involved in keeping the promise.

The State of the World's Children 1991 focuses on the 1990 World Summit of Children and its outcomes. The Declaration and Plan of Action adopted by the Summit is published with the report, as is the full text of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The report’s panels describe all 22 of the specific goals for the year 2000 and show why they are attainable and affordable. The report therefore serves as a basic record of the commitment made by the international community, in respect to its children, for the decades ahead.

The State of the World's Children 1990 summarizes the great set-backs and great achievements of the 1980s and sets out the central challenges for the decade ahead. It states that, as the world struggles to free itself from the burdens of debt servicing and military spending, there are signs of a new concern for children. The prospect of a World Summit for Children, the new Convention on the Rights of the Child, and practical advances such as the near achievement of universal child immunization could mark the beginning of a new priority for children. The principle of according children ‘first call’ on society’s concerns and capacities underlies all of the issues discussed in the report, as UNICEF believes it should underlie the many decisions and actions which will shape the decade ahead.

The State of the World's Children 1989 looks at some of the major child health achievements of the 1980s – achievements which are now saving the lives of at least two and a half million children each year. But this rate of progress, says the report, is now threatened by rising debts and the reversal of economic development in large areas of the developing world. It argues that the heavy burden of the debt crisis is being passed on to the children of the world’s poor. Calling for action on debt reduction, trade and aid to restore the momentum to development, the report argues that the derailment of the development effort also offers an opportunity to re-examine its direction. Looking to the decade ahead, the report calls for a real development pact between industrialized and developing nations to attempt to meet the needs of the poorest third of mankind.

The State of the World's Children 1988 constitutes a direct appeal for the involvement of all possible resources in the cause of child survival and development. It argues that what is needed is a Grand Alliance – of governments and peoples, education systems and religious leaders, mass media and voluntary agencies, business and labour, professional associations and conventional health services – to create a universal demand for, and practical knowledge of, those methods which could bring about a revolution in child survival and development.

The State of the World's Children 1987 argues that the world has the means to attack childhood malnutrition and disease on a massive scale and at an affordable cost. And as a dramatic demonstration of this new potential, the lives of over 4 million children have already been saved – in the last five years alone – by nations which have mobilized to put these low-cost solutions to effect. Inset panels document this experience nation by nation, and describe the new methods being used to bring about a drastic improvement in child survival and development. The report includes a chapter that commemorates the fortieth anniversary of UNICEF, documenting the main changes in the state of the world’s children since UNICEF’s establishment in 1946

The State of the World's Children 1986 looks at the recent surge forward in immunization and describes how the strategy of social mobilization is being used to put this and other low-cost child protection techniques at the disposal of millions of parents. The second part of the report brings together a distillation of facts and examples, recent research findings and current expert opinion, on the major low-cost opportunities now available for protecting child’s lives and development – including sections on growth monitoring, oral rehydration therapy, breastfeeding and weaning, immunization, respiratory infections and female education.

The State of the World's Children 1985 reports on the progress of the GOBI strategies as they begin to go into action in different parts of the world. It brings together summaries – in accessible ‘notes and quotes’ form – of the latest research and writings on the low-cost interventions which make a child survival revolution possible. The report argues that if the low-cost techniques are to fulfil their potential to save millions of children’s lives, the focus of health care must be shifted from institutions to families. Changing perceptions of what is normal, what is possible, and what the individual can do to improve family life is both the means and the end of the revolution in child survival and development.

The State of the World's Children 1984 continues to draw attention to the fact that four relatively simple and low-cost methods (GOBI) could enable parents themselves to could enable parents to halve the rate of child mortality and child disability in the developing world. The report describes the worldwide response to the challenge of the ‘child survival and development revolution’ and brings together examples from around the world of the low-cost techniques which make this revolution for children possible. The report includes articles by distinguished experts in child health, who draw on their own work to describe the revolutionary potential of the new techniques and to spell out the practical difficulties.

The State of the World's Children 1982-1983 launches the ‘child survival and development revolution’. The message of the report: recent advances in both biological sciences and social organisation – including child growth monitoring to recognize undernutrition, oral re-hydration therapy to treat diarrhoea, breastfeeding and immunization against six vaccine-preventable diseases (GOBI) – have made it possible to save the lives of millions of children who die every year from preventable causes and to prevent an equally large number from becoming mentally or physically disabled.

The State of the World's Children 1981-1982 advocates the rapid acceleration of the development progress for the world’s poorest billion people in order to significantly improve the lives of their children by the end of the twentieth century. It argues that working with families and communities to provide for the health and education of their children is not only a matter of justice. It is also a productive investment in the world’s economic and social future.

The State of the World's Children 1980-1981 was launched by UNICEF Executive Director James Grant as an advocacy publication. The first The State of the World’s Children report focuses on the impact of poverty on children’s lives. It argues that perhaps for the first time the world has the resources and knowledge to mount a decisive push against hunger, disease and illiteracy. It calls for long-term political commitment to eradicating the worst aspects of poverty before the end of the twentieth century.



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