Early Childhood Development and the Post-2015 Development Agenda: A Solution to Reducing Poverty and Inequality
On September 23, 2014, Equity for Children’s Director of Programs and Research Günay Salazar participated in UNICEF’s “Breakfast of Champions for Early Childhood Development” during the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. A highlight of Equity for Children’s involvement in the breakfast was Günay Salazar signing the commitment to Early Childhood Development (ECD).
Over 170 high-level individuals attended, including President of Chile Michelle Bachelet, leaders from four United Nations organizations, eight country ministers, the first ladies of Colombia and Honduras, 10 Permanent Representatives to the UN, prominent academics, media and company executives. The one-hour event received immense attention across the globe on public and social media, reaching an estimated 4.5 million twitter users and appearing 30 million times on user timelines. Key influencers and partners from multiple UNICEF country and regional offices, prominent NGOs, freelance journalists, attendees and their affiliated institutions helped spread the message..
Event speakers, included:
- President of Chile Michelle Bachelet
Health Minister of Rwanda Dr. Agnes Binagwaho
Executive Director of UNICEF Anthony Lake
Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova
Director of the Earth Institute Jeffrey Sachs
Director of the Harvard Centre for the Developing Child Dr. Jack Shonkoff
H&M Conscious Foundation Global Manager Helena Thybell
In addition to highlighting the scientific and programmatic advances in early childhood development, these prominent participants expressed their commitment to serving as “champions” for early childhood development and their support for programs and policies that could be implemented early in life across sectors including health, nutrition, education and protection.
Immediately following the event, President Bachelet promoted ECD as a priority area for Chile in the post-2015 development agenda, stating, “We believe that the full incorporation of women in society, in all its facets – in the economy, in politics and in culture – is a prerequisite for development and should therefore also be a priority in the post-2015 Development Agenda as well as the issue which relates to the future of our societies: early childhood development.”
The event, co-sponsored by the Government of Chile and the Government of Rwanda, garnered support from world leaders who are committed to building a stable world and a better future by making sure that children survive and thrive during their early years. The event will help shape the post-2015 Development Agenda by emphasizing early childhood development as central to sustainable development.
The “Breakfast of Champions for Early Childhood Development” was preceded by the launch of a Lancet commentary piece by Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, and Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General.
The Importance of Early Childhood Development
Despite growing evidence about the effectiveness of early childhood development policies and programs, more than 200 million children under five years old in low- and middle-income countries will not reach their development potential.1 The first years of life, during which early brain development is most important, serve as the foundation for cognitive, social, emotional, language and physical development.2 These years also represent a period of great vulnerability when undeserving children’s basic needs often sets in motion a downward spiral contributing to poor health development and learning, early parenthood, low earning capacity and intergenerational transmission of poverty.3
Equity For Children and Early Childhood Development
Equity For Children/Equidad para la infancia/Equidade para a infancia is committed to making ECD a core programmatic area by translating innovative research into policy recommendations and programs, and by facilitating forums of exchange between academia, policy makers and practitioners on a local, national and global level.
In Argentina, Equidad para la infancia organizes a series of colloquia and seminars on childcare and ECD in Buenos Aires in partnership with Tres de Febrero University (Universidad Tres de Febrero, UNTREF), the Arcor Foundation, policy makers from various municipalities, the national government and national NGOs.
In Colombia, Equity For Children/Equidad para la infancia brings an urban focus to equity in ECD by partnering with the Colombian NGO “Cómo Vamos” to conduct research in several of Colombia’s major cities. This past week Equity For Children/Equidad para la infancia participated in the presentation of results for Bogotá.
In Brazil, Equidade para a infancia lead the Early Childhood Network (Rede Nacional Primeira Infância) for the thematic area of childhood and violence.
On a regional level, Equity For Children/Equidad para la infancia/Equidade para a infancia organizes regional seminars on violence and public policy with a focus on ECD such as the First and Second Annual Latin American Colloquium on Security Policies and Human Rights, held respectively in 2011 and 2013.
On a global level, Equity For Children/Equidad para la infancia/Equidade para a infancia lead advocacy targeting ECD for the Sustainable Development Goals (due to supersede the Millennium Development Goals after 2015) by sponsoring research and events on the topic.
Please continue to visit www.EquityForChildren.org for updates on our Early Childhood Development programming and activities in coming months.
1. Sally Grantham-McGregor, Yin Bun Cheung, Santiago Cueto, Paul Glewwe, Linda Richter, Barbara Strupp, and the International Child Development Steering Group, “Developmental potential in the first 5 years for children in developing countries,” Lancet 369, (January 2007): 60–70.
2. Anthony Lake and Margaret Chan, “Putting science into practice for early child development,” Lancet, published online September 20, 2014, 1-2, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61680-9.