#ENDchildpoverty as Part of the SDGs: Empowering Youth

Adolescence and Youth, Participation and Self-expression, Poverty and Inequality

On Thursday, February 2, 2017, Equity for Children Associate Director, Beatrice Mauger, participated in a workshop entitled #ENDchildpoverty, at the 19th Annual Winter Youth Assembly, a three day event from February 1-3 that brought together young leaders, government representatives, and civil society organizations at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The event was organized by the Global Coalition to End Child Poverty, of which Equity for Children is a member, in partnership with UNICEF.

With youth at the core of the discussions, the conference aimed to highlight the interdependence and universality of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by exploring multifaceted global issues such as poverty, education, sustainable consumption and production, and the role of youth in finding solutions to these problems. Interactive workshops led by notable organizations equipped delegates with the practical skills needed to tackle and implement the SDGs and to realize the 2030 Agenda.

Speakers at the #ENDchildpoverty Workshop included:

  • Antonio Franco Garcia, Child Poverty Advocacy and Programmes, UNICEF
  • Cristina Diez, Director of Advocacy – New York Office, ATD Fourth World 
  • Katherine Ronberg, Advocacy & Policy Advisor, ChildFund Alliance
  • Beatrice Mauger, Associate Director, Equity for Children 
  • Sofia Garcia Garcia, Representative to the United Nations, SOS Children’s Villages 
  • Masue Suzuki, Program Officer, Arigatou International
  • Marggie Simo, Advocacy & External Engagement, World Vision 
Photo: Audrey Soto

 

The event included a series of “ice breaker” questions, which led the audience into a discussion with the panelists about what child poverty really means. 

Young people were later asked to brainstorm solutions to child poverty that could be adapted to their local contexts, in small groups. Finally, a few of the audience members discussed their group findings and what they could be doing to address poverty going forward.

Below are additional highlights from the briefing:

  • UNICEF spoke on addressing SDG 1

Although the MDGs have helped to halve extreme poverty from 42% in 1990 to less than 13% in 2013, there is still work to do. Currently, 1 in 5 kids struggle to live in extreme poverty, living on $1.90 a day. Moreover, kids account for half of the world’s extreme poverty cases. The SDGs provide a roadmap towards sustainable solutions. These solutions include:

  1. Monitoring and measuring data regularly regarding child needs and find target entry points for interventions
  2. Improve access to social services: nutritious food, healthcare, water, sanitation, and education
  3. Implement social protection measures that help children overcome poverty and deprivation and become more resilient
  4. Ensure growth is inclusive and that decent employment opportunities exist for all in order to build a fulfilled life for families and children
  • ChildFund highlighted the need to give children a voice

Child poverty is multidimensional. To this end, ChildFund’s work includes programs that address nutrition, healthcare, education, and life skills. In implementing programs, it is important to engage stakeholders, i.e. children being served. When developing new frameworks for achieving the SDGs, ChildFund consulted with more than 16,000 children. In doing so, ChildFund has become a voice with and for children to highlight the issues important to children. In completing needs assessments, a common theme emerged, the need to address violence against children.

  • Equity for Children noted that child poverty is universal
Photo: Audrey Soto

Child poverty is a universal phenomenon which affects children from both developed and developing countries. This is illustrated by the fact that 20% of US children, for instance, are living in relative poverty (that is, under the poverty line) despite existing policies and the wealth to address the problem. Equity for Children is currently working with local governments, including those of Bogota, Colombia, Lima, Peru, and Cordoba, Argentina, measuring, monitoring and developing social accountability mechanisms to improve child well-being. We leverage these findings communicate more efficiently with city leaders and to influence local policy about children’s needs in the areas of health, education and early child development. We have documented our methodology in order to replicate and adapt our research and advocacy model to local contexts around the world.

  • SOS Children’s Villages highlighted the importance of adapting programs

In working with children, programs must become more adaptive, inclusive, and participatory. There is a dire need that education systems and research programs adapt their work to the needs of the child. Understanding their needs as a whole will allow researchers, NGOs, and other relevant stakeholders to better understand community participation. Examples of this is seen when children can’t perform well in school due to the lack of emotional stability, physical limitations,  and familial problems. In this way, the child has many barriers that need to be addressed in order to attain scholastic achievement. Moving forward, the international community and stakeholders must look for solutions.

  • World Vision emphasized the need to collect metrics

Measuring and monitoring child poverty is a very difficult task; 65% of countries do not measure child poverty. A mitigating factor preventing accurate measurement is government will. In the rare instance when it is measured, data and research do not always impact the policies or programs in these countries.  This is apparent in the fact that only 5% of countries have national programs that address child poverty.

  • Youth must be engaged noted Arigatou International

Both human and structural root causes of child poverty must be addressed. Arigatou International engages and mobilizes youth through faith-inspired resources. Arigatou is working on finding methods to transform youth ideas into solutions.

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