If the soul of a society can be judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable members, then by a similar measure, a society’s future – its long-term prospects for sustainable growth, stability and shared prosperity – can be predicted by the degree to which it provides every child with a fair chance in life. (UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2016)
The world still has a problem of millions of children being denied their rights to everything they need to grow up healthy and strong. In some countries this is mainly because of their place of birth or their family origins. And also because of their race, ethnicity or gender; or because they live in poverty or with a disability.
The UNICEF report adds that:
An infant deprived of post-natal care may not survive her first days. A child deprived of immunization or safe water may not live to see his fifth birthday, or may live a life of diminished health. A child deprived of adequate nutrition may never reach his full physical or cognitive potential, limiting his ability to learn and earn. A child deprived of quality education may never gain the skills she needs to succeed someday in the workplace or send her own children to school. And a child deprived of protection – from conflict, violence or abuse, from exploitation and physically and emotionally scarred for life, with profound consequences.
Behind all these situations lies what is known as inequity, which occurs when certain children are unfairly deprived of the basic rights and opportunities that are otherwise available to others. Many of them don’t get a fair start in life due to their country’s negligence.
If things continue as they are, in 2030, 167 million children will be in extreme poverty, 69 million children under age 5 would have died between 2016 and 2030 and about 60 million children of primary school age would be out of school.
This is an urgent call for governments to realise that greater investment and effort focused on reaching the children and families who have made the least progress.
Governments must first invest in the children who are furthest behind. Investing in these children is investing right into the world’s future.
The thing about inequity is that countries that are supposed to deal with it are not doing so, especially the low-income countries.
Governments need to realise that investing in children is the new way to invest in the economy.