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Inequity is a choice
By: Desiree Jongsma, Representative of UNICEF Timor-Leste

Around the world, millions of children do not have access to the building blocks they need to grow up healthy and strong. Immunizations, post-natal care, proper nutrition, and education – among the foundations of a productive and prosperous life – are out of reach for many.

Failure to reach those children now will fuel intergenerational cycles of disadvantage that will imperil their future, the future of their societies, and the future of the world. We have a clear choice to make: invest in accelerated progress for the children being left behind, or face the consequences of a far more divided and unfair world by 2030.

Those consequences are staggering to contemplate – at current trends, for example, by 2030, 167 million children will still be living in extreme poverty, 69 million children under the age of 5 will have died from mostly preventable causes and more than 60 million primary school-aged children will be out of school.

Here in Timor-Leste, lives of children have substantially improved over the past years, with more infants and children surviving to their fifth birthday, and with more children being immunized and going to school. However important challenges still need to be addressed to further advance the rights of all children in the country.

In Timor-Leste these challenges include, amongst others, inadequate quality of education and of child protection services, as well as poor sanitation. Many schools and health posts still lack adequate water and sanitation facilities, and in terms of overall access to improved drinking water and sanitation there are notable differences between urban and rural areas. Another key challenge is related to malnutrition among children under five years of age, although between 2009 and 2013 the rate of stunting (low height for age) as per the 2013 Timor-Leste Food and Nutrition Survey (TLFNS) was reduced by a notable  8 percentage points from 58.1 to 50.2 per cent, while wasting and underweight were also considerably reduced.  However this same study also found that malnutrition between municipalities varied, and that with the exception of Dili and Lautem municipalities, stunting prevalence in the other municipalities ranged from 46.5 per cent to 65.0 per cent.

Yet, this inequity – the disparities between and within societies – is not inevitable for children. It is the result of choices that we make as a society and as a global community.

Narrowing the gaps between rich and poor is something we can achieve. As UNICEF’s new State of the World’s Children 2016 report shows, there are steps we can take so that every child, even one born into the most challenging of environments, receives the care and education he or she needs to survive and thrive. It comes down to the policies we pursue and the approach we take.

Decision-makers, aid agencies, and non-governmental organizations should commit to a set of principles that promote equity. These principles start with using data to identify and track the children making the least progress, and then steering investments first to these children to help them catch up.

Equity is not a zero-sum game. Every child should advance. But increasing investment in those who start out at the greatest disadvantage is the best way to ensure that each child has a fair shot at reaching the same level. This is a proven formula to guide investment; a 2010 study by UNICEF demonstrated that an equity-focused approach can accelerate progress toward global health goals and can be cost-effective in low-income, high-mortality countries.

At the same time, it is critical that stakeholders take an integrated approach. This means addressing the overlapping deprivations and challenges children face. When a child has no access to proper healthcare, for instance, his or her ability to study will likely be diminished.

Importantly, pursuing equity is not about spending alone. It is about taking innovative approaches to old problems and using new technologies to help bring resources to the most in need. It is also about involving members of the community and families because those closest to children can have the greatest impact.

One of the most important lessons from the past 15 years is that approaches that focus on overall progress do not eliminate the disparities that put the poorest children at the highest risk. As a result, if we do not make a concerted effort to help the most disadvantaged, they are likely to fall behind as those more fortunate continue to advance.

In a few short months, the world will mark the first anniversary of the agreement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Last September, more than 200 leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York and agreed to an historic set of goals that aim to make significant advancements when it comes to health, education, poverty-reduction, and sustainability by 2030.

As governments around the world – including our own government – consider how best to meet their commitments to the goals, it is imperative that they take an equity approach.

Equity has gained new urgency. Climate change is exacerbating the risks to the most disadvantaged children: globally, more than half a billion children live in zones where the occurrence of flooding is extremely high, and nearly 160 million live in zones where the severity of drought is high or extremely high. At the same time, regional conflict and violence, and the ongoing refugee crisis, are putting more and more children in extreme danger and depriving them of what they need to thrive.

Within this challenging landscape, we must remember that inequity is not inevitable – if we choose to take the right approach, disadvantaged children can have a chance to realize their dreams of a better life.



Dezigualdade ne’e opsaun ida
Husi: Desiree Jongsma, Reprezentativa UNICEF Timor-Leste
Iha mundu rai-klaran labarik tokon ba tokon la-hetan asesu ba konstrusaun bloku sira mak sira presiza ba sira-nia kresimentu saúde ida forte. Imunizasaun sira, kuidadu pos-natál, edukasaun no nutrisaun nato’on, – entre fundasaun entre moris produtiva no prospéru – barak mak la-hetan.

Fallansu atu alkansa ba labarik sira agora ne’ebe sei horik tuir siklu desvantajen husi jerasaun ba jerasaun mak tau sira nia futuru iha risku, futuru sira-nia sosiedade sira no futuru mundu ne’e-nian. Ita iha opsaun klaru ida atu halo: investe iha progresu aseleradu ba labarik sira mak husik hela ba kotuk, ka enfrenta konsekuensia husi mundu ida fahe-malu do’ok liu-tan no mundu ida la-justu iha 2030.

Konsekuensia hirak ne’ebé suprendida atu halo kontemplasaun – hanesan ezemplu tendensia sira ohin loron, iha 2030, labarik sira tokon 167 sei moris hela iha mukit tebes-nia laran, labarik sira tokon 69 ho idade tinan 5 mai kraik sei kontinua mate tamba moras sira mak bele prevene no labarik sira tokon 60 ho idade eskola-nian mak seidauk eskola.
Iha Timor-Leste ita haree labarik barak ba eskola, labarik barak goza sira-nia aniversariu ba dalima no labarik barak mak hetan imunizasaun no ba eskola. Maibe sei iha dezafiu importante mak sei presija atu rezolve atu avanza labarik hotu sira nia direitu iha nasaun ne’e.

Iha Timor-Leste obstaklu hirak ne’e inklui, entre sira seluk, kualidade edukasaun ne’ebe mak la-adekuadu no servisu protesaun labarik, no mós saneamentu ne’ebe mak aat loos. Eskola barak no postu saúde sira sei menus bee no fasilidade saneamentu adekuadu, no iha asesu jerál ba bee moos no saneamentu iha diferensa ne’ebé notavél entre área urbana no rural. Obstaklu xave sira seluk mak relasiona ho malnutrisaun entre labarik sira idade tinan lima mai kraik, maske entre 2009 no 2013 taxa ra’es badak (todan menus tuir otas) mak tuir Levantamentu Ai-han no Nutrisaun 2013 (TLFNS) nota katak reduz ona pontu porsentu 8, husi porsentu 58,1 ba 50,2, nune’e mós krekas maran no todan menus mós konsideravél reduz ona. Maibé estudu ne’ebe hanesan mós hatudu katak malnutrisaun entre munisipiu sira mós oi-oin, no ida ne’e ho eksepsaun Munisipiu Dili ho Lautem, ra’es badak mós akontese iha munisipiu seluk ho espasu husi porsentu 46,5 ba porsentu 60,0.

Karik nune’e, dezigualdade ne’e – desparidade entre no iha sosiedade sira – mak la-inavitavel ba labarik sira. Ne’e mak rezultadu husi opsaun sira mak ita halo hanesan sosiedade no hanesan komunidade globál.

Haklot desparidade entre ema riku no ki’ak mak buat ida ita tenke alkansa. Hanesan UNICEF-nia Relatoriu Estatutu Mundial ba Labarik 2016 hatudu, iha pasu sira mak ita tenke halo ba labarik ida-idak, maske ida moris iha ambiente sira dezafiozu, simu kuidadu no edukasaun mak nia (feto ka mane) mak nesesita atu moris no hetan prospéru. Ne’e tu’un tuir ba polítika no abordajen sira mak ita foti.

Ema mak foti desizaun sira, ajensia ajuda-nian sira, organizasaun non governamentál sira tenke kompromete atu halo tuir prinsípiu sira mak promove igualdade. Prinsípiu hirak ne’e hahú husi uza dadus atu identifika no buka tuir labarik sira atu halo netik progresu ruma, no tuir mai diriji investimentu sira uluk liu ba labarik sira ne’e no ajuda sira atu rekupera sira nia atrazu sira.

Ekidade ne’e la’os jogu zona zero ida. Labarik ida-idak tenke avansa ba oin. Maibé aumentu ba investimentu ba sira ne’ebe komesa ho desvantajen boot mak maneira ida di’ak atu garante katak labarik ida hetan oportunidade justa atu atinji nevel ne’ebe mak hanesan. Ne’e mak formula komprovada ida hodi orienta investimentu; estudu ida halao husi UNICEF iha 2010 hatudu katak país sira ho mortalidade a’as abordajen ida foka liu ba ekidade mak bele aselera progresu diresaun ba meta sira saúde globál-nian no bele hetan kustu efetivu iha rendimentu ki’ik, nasaun mortalidade aas.

Iha tempu hanesan, karik krítiku tebes parte interesadu sira uza abordajen integrada hanesan. Ne’e siginifika katak atu ultrapasa desparidade sira no dezafiu mak labarik sira hasoru. Wainhira labarik ida lahetan asesu ba kuidadu saúde adekuadu hanesan ezemplu labarik nia abilidade atu estuda sei deminui.

Importante liu haktuir ekidade la’os buat ida atu halo mesak deit. Ne’e kona-ba uza abordajen inovadora sira atu rezolve problema sira no uza teknolojia foun atu ajuda lori rekursu sira ne’ebe nesesitadu liu. Ne’e kona-ba involvimentu membru komunidade no familia sira tamba ema mak besik liu ba labarik sira bele iha impaktu boot liu.

Lisaun ida importante husi tinan 15 liu ba mak abordajen sira mak foka liu ba progresu no la’os atu elimina desparidade sira mak tau labarik ki’ak sira iha risku. Hanesan rezultadu, wainhira ita la-hadiak esforsu atu ajuda sira desfavorisidu liu, sira sei monu iha kotuk no sira ne’ebe iha sorte di’ak liu sei kontinua avansa ba oin. 

Iha fulan hirak mai ne’e, mundu sei marka priméiru aniversariu ba akordu Objetivu Dezenvolvimentu Sustentavel. Setembru liu ba, lider 200 resin ba hamutuk iha Nasoins Unidas iha Nova Yorke no konkorda hamutuk meta istoríku hodi halo avansu signifikativu sira wainhira trata kona-ba saúde, edukasaun, redusaun probreza no sustentabilidade iha 2030. 

Hanesan governu sira iha mundu – inkluindu ita nia governu rasik – konsidera forma di’ak liu atu kumpri sira nia promesa ba meta sira ne’ebe imperativu katak sira uza abordajen ekidade.

Ekidade manan ona urjensia foun. Mudansa klimátika fó risku todan liu tamba labarik sira mak desfavoresida liu: globalmente labarik liu millaun baluk ida moris iha zona sira ne’ebé akontese inundasaun estremamente boot, no ema besik millaun 160 moris iha zona sira mak iha rai maran ka estremamente maran. Iha tempu hanesan, konflitu no violensia rejional, krize refujiadu mak la’o hela tau labarik sira iha perigu estremamente boot no hadook tiha buat ne’ebe mak sira nesesita ba sira nia prosperidade.

Hamutuk ho paizajen dezafiu ne’e, ita tenke hanoin katak dezigualdade la’os inevitavel – karik ita eskolla abordajen loos, labarik desfavorisida sira bele hetan oportunidade atu realiza sira-nia mehi ba moris di’ak liu.






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