Save the Children report examines grave threats to childhood, calls for urgent action to protect children
TORONTO, May 30, 2018 /CNW/ - More than half of all children globally – over 1.2 billion – are threatened by conflict, widespread poverty or discrimination against girls, a new report by Save the Children has found.
Launched ahead of International Children's Day on June 1st, The Many Faces of Exclusion examines how these three key factors are robbing children around the world of their childhoods. Alarmingly, the report finds that millions of girls still face discrimination and exclusion with respect to basic education, child marriage, early pregnancy, sexual violence and unrecognized domestic work in at least 55 countries.
Save the Children is particularly concerned for girls in extreme poverty and those affected by conflict, where gender-based discrimination compounds the impact of these threats on girls.
In its second year, the report also includes a ranking of 175 countries where childhood is most and least threatened as a result of poor health, malnutrition, exclusion from education, child labour, child marriage, early pregnancy and extreme violence. Of the 175 countries in the End of Childhood Index, thirty percent of countries are characterized by discrimination against girls.
Bill Chambers, President and CEO of Save the Children Canada, said that a lot of the progress made so far at the global level has been hindered by prolonged conflicts especially in the Middle East and Africa, and this has particularly affected girls.
"More than half the world's children start their lives held back due to systematic exclusion – and because of this over 1.2 billion are at risk of losing their childhood through conflict, extreme poverty and discrimination based on gender. From our work on the ground, we also know that conflict and extreme poverty particularly exacerbate discrimination against girls," Chambers said.
Girls who live in countries affected by armed conflict are 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than boys. Our data also suggests girls are generally at a heightened risk of sexual violence. About 120 million girls worldwide have experienced forced sex or sexual acts at some point in their lives.
Save the Children also highlighted the risk of harmful practices such as child marriage, which impacts on girls disproportionately – more than 80 percent of children married before age 18 are girls. Nearly 100 million girls are not protected by national laws against child marriage and, even in countries where this practice is not legal, at least 7.5 million marry illegally each year.
Conflict makes girls more vulnerable to child marriage which is reportedly on the rise for girls in Syria and among Syrian refugees. Maha*, a Syrian refugee living in Jordan, was forced to marry her husband when she was 12. She is now one month pregnant. "I didn't want to get married," she told Save the Children. "I am still young and I wanted to finish my studies."
As host of the G7 this year, Chambers says Canada is well positioned to demonstrate strong leadership in prioritizing the needs of girls impacted by extreme poverty or conflict, and urge other G7 nations to follow suit particularly through orientation of international assistance.
"Canada has demonstrated great initiative in prioritizing gender equality through its foreign policy and international assistance. We need these positive policy commitments to translate into concrete action to deliver progress for the most marginalized girls and boys, particularly those at risk of being left behind due to conflict and extreme poverty," Bill Chambers said.
While the situation has improved in the past year in 95 of the countries ranked, alarmingly, conditions worsened in about 40 countries, according to the End of Childhood Index.
The report also found that:
- More than one billion children live in countries plagued by poverty; 240 million in countries affected by conflict and fragility; and more than 575 million girls live in countries where gender bias is a serious issue.
- Almost 153 million children are living in 20 countries affected by all three threats—including South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan.
- Malnutrition, disease and inadequate healthcare kill over 20 times as many children in war zones as conflict-related violence.
- The incidence of child labour in countries affected by armed conflict is 77% higher than the global average. Conflict also makes girls more vulnerable to child marriage.
- Only four of 34 fragile or conflict-affected states with available data have achieved, or nearly achieved, universal primary education.
- The poorest girls have about three times as many births as the wealthiest.
Notes to editors:
- A child is defined as someone under the age of 18, as per the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Save the Children estimates that more than 1.2 billion children are threatened by poverty, conflict or discrimination against girls. This number was calculated by looking at the number of children who live in countries characterized by one of those three grave threats to childhood (conflict, poverty, discrimination against girls). Children in these countries (1.2 billion, or 1 in 2 children worldwide, or 53% of children worldwide) are at risk of being robbed of their childhoods. A more detailed explanation of data analysis is available in the full report, which is attached.
SOURCE Save The Children Canada
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