Over 175 NGOs call on UN to count vulnerable children

Over 175 children’s and disabilities rights organisations and academics from across the world have intensified their demands on the UN to ensure that all children are counted as part of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In a letter to UN statistical bodies – reissued with a three-fold increase in signatories since it was first sent last year – the organisations argue that it is vital to ensure that there is no ‘data gap’ and that the framework for monitoring the implementation of the SDGs captures “children living outside of households and/or without parental care.”
The diverse group of civil society organisations claim that some of the world’s most vulnerable children, those without parental care or at risk of being so, have “fallen off the statistical map” and will be left behind by the SDGs if the data gap is not filled. SOS Children’s Villages International is among the signatories, which also include other major child-focused NGOs and INGOs.
The SDGs, which were adopted by the United Nations in September 2015, will guide spending of billions of dollars in international assistance over the next 15 years.
The goals have been set, with the accompanying SDG Global Indicator Framework for monitoring and measuring progress and success. The framework was agreed by the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC) at its 47th session in New York on 11 March 2016. However, a concrete change to the system and methodologies that will ensure that the SDGs will benefit all children are yet to be seen.
Following the UNSC negotiations, a new United Nations Working Group on Disaggregated Data is due to be established. SOS Children's Villages International is supportive of this initiative and calls on the group to develop ‘Care Status’ as a disaggregated data category.
The letter to the UN states: “All children count, but not all children are counted. As a result, some of the world’s most vulnerable children – those without parental care or at risk of being so; in institutions or on the street; trafficked; separated from their families as a result of conflict or disaster; or recruited into armed groups – have largely fallen off the UN’s statistical map. There are only limited data about how many children live in such precarious circumstances, except for scattered estimates from some specific countries.”
The letter calls on the UN to “ensure that children living outside of households and/or without parental care are represented in disaggregated data” and to “improve and expand data collection methodologies to ensure all children are represented.”
Quality data needs to be developed and used to monitor SDG progress on poverty, inequality and social justice among vulnerable and largely forgotten children. There is a need for collective efforts to strengthen statistical capacity at national and international level to ensure that official data portray the genuine reality of these children.
The letter concludes: “The post-2015 global monitoring framework offers an opportunity to do more and better on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable children – ensuring, first and foremost, that they are no longer invisible.”

Click here to read the full letter.