“Poverty is often transmitted across generations because barriers to accessing opportunities, services, and education tend to impact not only individual children, but also the families and communities that surround them.”
In 2006, Equity for Children’s Executive Director Alberto Minujin acted as contributing editor to a book entitled “Poverty and Children: Policies to Break the Vicious Cycle”. The book, published in a collaboration between the New School and UNICEF, showcases papers discussed in April 2005 at an international conference titled “Children and Poverty: Global Trends, Local Solutions?” The themes addressed in this compilation of works by a broad array of academics and practitioners remain highly relevant nearly fifteen years later. Children in poverty are one of the most vulnerable populations to human rights violations and their impacts last a lifetime.
The cycle of poverty remains a prevalent impediment to child well-being on a global scale. Poverty is often transmitted across generations because barriers to accessing opportunities, services, and education tend to impact not only individual children, but also the families and communities that surround them. The experience of the early years of life is integral in the physical and mental development processes, and deprivation can severely diminish the capacity of children to become well-adjusted, healthy adults equipped with the foundational skills necessary to reach their full potential.
We must ensure not to leave any child behind in progress towards greater equity and sustainable development because today’s youth will inherit the pressing social and environmental challenges that must be overcome if our planet and its people are to survive and thrive. All youth must be equipped with the necessary skills to participate meaningfully in the world they are entering and to leave it in better condition for their children. Only by addressing the special needs and vulnerabilities of children in poverty today can we set the foundation for a positive multiplier effect, within which every child lifted from poverty has the ability to provide their children and future descendants with the support, nourishment, and education necessary to well-being and to the fulfillment of potential.
Policies aimed at the mitigation of poverty and the improvement of social equity must take a child-focused approach. Furthermore, it is important for this approach to analyze and respond to the complex multidimensional nature of poverty as a unique individual experience that can involve the experience of various types of hardships and to varying degrees. Only when we study poverty as an experience of unequal access to a safe environment, to life’s opportunities, and to protected human rights fulfillment, can we begin to achieve progress towards improving the daily lives of those affected. At Equity for Children, we are committed to conducting the outreach, advocacy, and research to help policymakers understand the multidimensional nature and impact of poverty beyond simple income indicators.
In his contribution to the New School and UNICEF joint publication, Alberto Minujin highlights the need to bring together stakeholders from various sectors in order to share best practices and collaborate towards greater change in the field. This shared discourse between the public, academia, and policymakers has advanced significantly since 2006, with Equity for Children and partners serving as prominent actors in joining together scholars and practitioners with diverse expertise to discuss how to further the child agenda and improve the difficult realities faced by children in poverty. Children need advocates to ensure that no person or system takes advantage of their youth, inexperience, and lack of knowledge of their rights in order to violate their rights or inhibit their access to the tools that will unlock their potential. This is key to ending the multigenerational transmission of poverty by addressing the most pressing deprivations faced by youth so that they can build a better future for those still to come.
We are eager to play our part in providing the policy context for this better future. We continue to do this by conducting advocacy, incorporating the perspectives of youth in poverty into the field’s discourse, and measuring the multidimensional aspects of poverty so that policymakers can receive an accurate and nuanced depiction of the lived experience of poverty and formulate effective policy responses.