Programmes 2006–2010

Children drawing at a table

Children taking part in a workshop on violence in and around the school environment. Photograph by Rana Mullan © UNICEF Turkey 2006

The issues

Despite impressive economic progress, life for 28 per cent of Turkish children under fifteen years of age who live in poverty is characterised by gender disparities, social exclusion, early marriage, large families and limited access to essential services such as health, education and social security. According to the last Turkey Demographic and Health Survey (TDHS), published in 2003, 35 out of every thousand children die before their fifth birthday, which is about five times the rate for the EU.

Although the TDHS showed dramatic improvements in infant and under–five mortality rates, it also highlighted the intimate links between poor access to health and social security, poverty, low educational attainment and discriminatory gender practices. The consequent incapacity of women to fulfil themselves as individuals, mothers, carers and responsible members of the community hinders development in virtually every area of Turkish life — not least of all for children. About one in every eight girls of primary school age is not going to school. Rates of unpaid and domestic labour are significantly higher for girls than boys.

There are a reported 80,000 children living and/or working on the streets and approximately 18,000 children live in institutions, roughly half of whom are economic orphans — children whose parents are alive but who are unable to support them within the family environment. The child justice system is currently undergoing dramatic and positive reforms but there is still much to achieve. Adolescent girls and boys have limited access to information and life skills to protect themselves from violence, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS during this significant phase of their development into adulthood.

How is UNICEF helping?

Under the latest County Programme Action Plan (CPAP) with Turkey, UNICEF is seeking to address these issues with eight major projects under the four programme headings of:

  1. Quality Education:
  2. Early Childhood Care and Learning:
  3. Protection and Participation of Children and Adolescents:
  4. Advocacy, Information and Social Policy:

How can you help?

Read more about our programmes and projects in this section — and please bear in mind that UNICEF is the only United Nations agency that relies exclusively on donations from private sector organisations and individuals to support our activities. Contact the Turkish National Committee for UNICEF today and find out how you can help us make a difference in Turkey.

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