28 May 2024

Shocks and the changing profiles of children living in poverty

In a world increasingly characterized by fragility and shocks, it is essential to evaluate and understand the changing profiles of children living in poverty, to expand UNICEF´s and partners' awareness and understanding of these changing patterns, and to explore the critical implications in terms of policy and programmatic responses, including through social protection.Using the example of a global shock, the COVID-19 pandemic, and research conducted by UNICEF Innocenti - Global Office of Research and Foresight, this policy brief examines the changing profiles of children living in poverty in two country contexts, Georgia and Uganda, and assesses the broader policy implications. HighlightsThe poverty profiles of children and their families can change rapidly in diverse ways during and following shocks. The Georgia and Uganda examples show that those who became at least temporarily poor due to the pandemic are increasingly urban, work in unstable employment, and have more children.While the focus of this brief is on the impacts of the pandemic, in the past years, other issues have exacerbated the situation of children living in/vulnerable to poverty, including the cost-of-living crisis, increased conflicts, and the climate crisis.In light of this, it is important for governments, UNICEF, and partners to quickly identify the changing profiles of children living in poverty and to reach them with the necessary policies and programmes, especially through inclusive social protection systems that have high coverage, are responsive to shocks and provide adequate benefits which are not capped according to the number of children.
22 May 2024

Tackling gender inequality in a climate-changed world

Air pollution, rising temperatures, crop failures, and water shortages are increasing pressures on health and agrifood systems. During these crises, households often reduce food consumption, sell assets, migrate or adjust labor allocation between men and women. Women and children are at greater risk of food insecurity due to lower access to and…, Climate shocks affect women and girls more, Female-headed households lose 8 per cent more income due to heat stress and 3 per cent more due to floods. This causes lower off-farm income and significant reductions in livestock holdings and agricultural expenditures. Women do not have an adequate level of education, have limited access to infrastructure and markets, and perform the biggest…, Adaptive and gender-responsive social protection systems, Long-term investments in social protection systems and short-term adaptations can help women and girls  reduce their vulnerability to climate or economic shocks. Some adaptations measures include: cash and in-kind assistance alongside livelihood diversification connections to early warning systems and anticipatory action linkages for women and…, Inclusive and gender-responsive agrifood systems, Agrifood systems represent a pivotal source of livelihood and are a major employer for women globally. In South Asia, 71 per cent of women work in agrifood systems, compared to 47 per cent of men. Projections suggest that if half the small-scale producers benefited from women’s empowerment within agrifood systems, the incomes of an additional 58…, 5 ways to adaptation, Climate financing should be directed towards inclusive agrifood and social protection systems by adopting an integrated approach, and formulating gender-responsive and transformative innovations that are locally informed and tailored to the needs and preferences of women and adolescent girls. We call on policymakers, multilateral donors, and…
31 October 2023

Child-responsive urban policies, laws and standards: A guidance

UN-Habitat and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have developed this Guidance on Child-Responsive Urban Policies, Laws and Standards to support governments at all levels to create urban spaces where children can access basic services, clean air and water; where children feel safe to play, learn and grow, which includes ensuring their voices are heard and their needs are integrated into public policies and decision-making processes. The guidance highlights the important role that policy and legislation play as drivers of change; they set normative standards and minimum expectations for duty-bearers in all aspects of children’s life, survival and development. Hence, the rights and interests of children in the urban context should be considered and mainstreamed in planning, financing, administrative and structural reforms at all levels of government, including at the local level. Thus, this tool contains a succinct but comprehensive summary of the best practices, country-specific, practical examples, including a set of global child-rights frameworks that are necessary to grant children equal value and to guarantee them the necessary protection and opportunities for participation. This guidance has been developed in such a way that it is useful for governments at all levels, children-led institutions, young peoples’ associations, sectoral institutions, urban practitioners, non-state actors, and community-based organizations and children. 
03 July 2023

Global Annual Results Report 2022: Humanitarian action

Climate change and conflict shaped many children’s lives for the worse in 2022. Flooding, storms, drought, war, local and regional conflict, and other forms of violence negatively impacted children’s safety; their health and exposure to communicable diseases; their nutritional status; their access to education; their environment and access to safe water; and their ability to stay in their homes and communities. In 2022, UNICEF achieved the following results in humanitarian settings: Clean water and sanitation for 39.4 million people; Measles vaccinations for 27.2 million children aged 6 months to 15 years; Services for the early detection and treatment of severe wasting and other forms of malnutrition, benefiting 114.6 million children under 5 years of age; Access to education for 18.6 million children; Community-based mental health and psychosocial support services for 12.6 million children, and interventions designed to prevent gender-based violence and support survivors for 8.8 million children and women; Humanitarian cash assistance for 2.8 million households; Delivery of $863.9 million worth of supplies in preparation for or in response to emergencies. These results for children were made possible by the $4.25 billion in humanitarian funding UNICEF received in 2022. The present report describes the humanitarian situation of children and how UNICEF engaged with partners at the local, regional and global levels to save lives, protect childhoods and ensure that children’s rights were upheld.  
30 June 2023

Strengthening care for families and supporting mental health

Being mentally healthy gives us the ability to enjoy life and cope with good and bad days. For children, it is vital to their ability to understand and manage their emotions, form nurturing and meaningful connections, play, learn and grow. The pandemic highlighted just how much our mental health is a reflection of the world around us. It isn't…, It starts at home, Safe and nurturing environments at home are fundamental to the emotional and psychological development of children and adolescents. The presence of a stable adult caregiver supports children’s and adolescents’ overall sense of wellbeing. In times of crises, re-establishing routines supports a child’s or adolescent’s coping and recovery.   While…, Caring for the caregiver  , Research  shows that supporting the mental health of parents and caregivers can avert instances of abuse, neglect, and adverse experiences during childhood.  When parents are supported and enabled to parent well, everyone benefits. Evidence-based parenting interventions have a positive impact on the mental well-being of both the caregivers and…, Family-friendly policies , The bottom line is that caregivers need time, resources and services to be the very best they can be. Family-friendly policies, defined as those which enable families to reconcile work and family life, are essential in this context.   Family-friendly policies, including paid parental leave; access to affordable, quality childcare; breastfeeding…, The role of government and business , Despite the clear benefits of family-friendly policies for children, families, businesses and economies at large, progress in the business and public policy spaces is lacking.   Globally,  the vast majority of working parents and caregivers have no or insufficient access to family-friendly policies, especially in informal work settings that fall…
24 April 2023

On mothers, necessity and invention

UNICEF’s recent experience in Ukraine suggests that humanitarian crises both necessitate innovation to enhance responsiveness; and can be critical in driving innovation forward. While the human cost of this war has been well-covered, it is worth underlining the magnitude of these impacts. The United Nations estimates that within Ukraine, there are 17.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, and 7 million people have been displaced. The impacts on women and children have been disproportionate – at least two-thirds of children have been displaced, and 90 per cent of refugees who fled the country were women and children. As in other large crises, the scale and rapid onset of the Ukraine war required swift action. A key pillar of UNICEF’s humanitarian response within Ukraine has been the provision of cash transfers to households with children to enable them to provide for their families’ needs with dignity and flexibility. To implement this pillar, UNICEF took a risk by developing a new online self-registration form to facilitate an accelerated reach to households in need, including in the hardest-to-reach areas. This online platform went live on the 30th of March and, in 2022, enabled the reach of 584,870 children in 225,000 households – a total of 1,026,746 people, with typical payments of approximately USD 900 per household. The use of online registration was particularly critical to the geographical reach of the programme, enabling UNICEF to make transfers to those hardest to reach and in the middle of the conflict. The piece reflects on lessons learned during this experience, focusing on innovation and risk-taking in humanitarian contexts and strengthening accountability to affected populations and people-centered data.