25 September 2014

Children's equality and Post-2015 development

Report from the panel hosted by SOS Children's Villages and other INGOs for the 69th UN General Assembly

“No matter whether you talk about poverty or violence, the inequality experienced by the most vulnerable children is unacceptable and rising."


The panel event with global policy makers and six child-focused INGOs took place in NYC on 23 September, as a side event to the 69th UN General Assembly. Photo: Joel Sheakoski
25 September 2014 - To harness the momentum and build support amongst world leaders to address inequality in the Post-2015 global development agenda SOS Children’s Villages, together with five other leading child-focused agencies (UNICEF, ChildFund Alliance, Plan International, Save the Children and World Vision), and the governments of Ecuador and Denmark, held the side panel discussion “Ensuring Sustainable Development: Making the Post 2015 Framework an Agenda for People’s Equity,” for the 69th United Nations General Assembly in New York.
 
Children and young people are disproportionally affected by inequalities. “No matter whether you talk about poverty or violence, the inequality experienced by the most vulnerable children is unacceptable and rising,” said Paula Guillet de Monthoux, CEO, SOS Children’s Villages Denmark. “I believe that if we are to create sustainable development, the Post-2015 Development Agenda should place the rights and needs of children and young people as central. This is a common goal of all the child focused agencies," she continued.
 
The Social Development Minister of Ecuador, Cecilia Vaca, stressed the need for the world to conceptually shift from capital-based development to people-focused development, pointing out that her government has put its focus on equality and equity. Ecuador has increased its social investment, in quantity and quality, particularly in early childhood and special attention to the poorest and most dispossessed groups. State failures to support early childhood interventions lead to poverty and inequality, intellectual and emotional despair. These gaps deepen through the lifecycle and have broad social impacts.
 
The numbers are shocking: eight percent of the world earns half the world’s income, with the remaining 92 percent sharing the rest, said Mette Thygesen, the Danish Government’s Deputy Head of Department, Development Policy and Global Cooperation. Reducing inequalities in Post-2015 is a priority for the Danish Government. Inequality is rooted in discrimination and denial of basic human rights. Without equality, social cohesion suffers, and without social cohesion, development becomes impossible. As exampled in her own country, social benefits targeting the most disadvantaged can bring about a better life for all.

Guenay Salazar, from Equity for Children, spoke about different root causes of inequalities experienced by children and shared recommendations on how to tackle them, based on findings from “Approaches to Equity," a recent study conducted by The New School University. Ms Salazar highlighted discrimination and exclusion as key drivers of inequality and stressed the important role that social protection systems and measures can play in tackling them.
 
Indicators are crucial for identifying existing gaps and monitoring progress in reaching people who are worst off. Without such indicators, progress on the current Millennium Development Goals has been limited to those members of society that are easiest to reach, while those who are the most vulnerable have been left behind. Paul Gulleik Larsen, representative of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called for indicators in the Post-2015 Development Agenda that measure a reduction in inequality, with a focus on those children and youth who are most vulnerable and marginalized, and who disappear into the medians and averages.
 
“Forty-seven percent of the world’s population living on less than $1.25 a day are children. I do not know how we can accept that,” said UNICEF’s Alexandra Yuster. This has deep consequences for everyone in society.  “Inequalities predominantly affect individuals and groups who are already suffering from multiple human rights deprivations,” she added.
 
Among those deprivations is the temporary or permanent loss of a caring family environment. “The kind of care in which children are raised represents a key marker for disadvantage, just like wealth, sex and where you are born,” highlighted Ms Guillet de Monthoux. Drawing on SOS Children’s Villages’ newly released briefing paper, A Solid Investment: Integrating Children without Parental Care into the Post-2015 Development Framework, she illustrated how children who lack or are at risk of losing parental care typically lag behind the general population in terms of education, health, employment, and social integration. They become easy targets of violence, abuse and neglect and suffer from severe emotional deprivation. Without addressing their specific vulnerabilities, any future goal on development is in danger of not being reached. “Let us together try to bring the voices of these children and all vulnerable groups to the table in the coming months, so that they will be integrated into the Post-2015 development agenda,” she concluded.


Read more about how SOS Children's Villages is working to ensure that the Post-2015 framework puts children's rights and welfare as top priority.