Equity for Children Definition and Programmatic Focus on ‘Approaches to Equity’

An abstract of Equity for Children’s definition and programmatic focus on approaches to equity.

The initiative “Equity for Children” views equity as the measure of the realization of social justice and equality of human rights in a society. This approach argues for the importance of development policies that try to ensure equity on top of economic growth – to address unfair disparities. Addressing unfair disparities relates mainly to a prioritization of the most disadvantaged children, adolescents and families. Equity for Children’s vision is for a society built on “social justice and fair distribution of power and resources for children and their families” (Equity for Children Vision Statement). As a program within The New School in New York, Equity for Children embodies progressive approaches with an emphasis on rights.  It advocates adequate public policies and legal standards as essential to the formation of a normative framework for child rights realization and the elimination of multidimensional child poverty.


The principle reason progress from economic growth does not reach those groups of people with the greatest needs is due to unfair distribution systems. Equity for Children believes that deaths of children under five years of age are an effect of inequitable distribution systems. The gap in available social services for those in the lowest quintile perpetuates intergenerational poverty that starts at childhood.  Income level, socio-economic status, ethno-linguistic groups, religion, disability, non-citizen status, gender and location are factors that often overlap with other deprivations and contribute to a lack of access to social services. Lack of quality services, multiple barriers to access and inequality in areas of power and participation are main issues that determine multidimensional child poverty.


Disadvantaged groups of children realize inequity in their lives through lack of access to services including education and literacy, basic health, immunization, safe water and sanitation and maternal nutrition. Through gender, ethnicity and other kinds of discrimination, inequity occurs when social and cultural attitudes or laws and economic systems deprive children of basic resources and limit their life opportunities because of who they are and/or where they live. When inequities overlap, such as material and service deprivation and discrimination, children are even more vulnerable to poverty and loss of rights. Childhood poverty has impact for generations. Some of the manifestations of inequity cited by Equity for Children authors include childhood death, malnourishment, truant children and HIV.

Characteristics of The Equity for Children Approach

The Equity for Children approach emphasizes the disaggregation of data over national data which, maintains Equity for Children, hides the true informational picture. Indicators for disaggregation include factors such as gender, wealth, ethnicity, location and other inequity determinants.

Equity for Children promotes equity-based development efforts and social policies that encompass multi-dimensional aspects of poverty such as universal coverage of basic social services, conditional cash transfers, progressive taxation, land reform, microcredit, de-centralization, minimum wage, social protection, and public work programs. The program fosters the active involvement of local communities in developing social policies and programming and the involvement of children and youth in developing the equity agenda.

Target Demographic

Childhood is a central structural component of society.  It is the most critical time to intercept intergenerational poverty for two reasons.  One is that children suffer at disproportionately higher rates during that period. Secondly, their deprivations often have long-lasting impacts that ultimately perpetuate the cycle of poverty. Equity for Children holds that agency for children and adolescents is key for social, cultural and economic development in democratic societies.

Theory and Justification for the Equity Approach

Equity for Children holds that countries have the legal and moral obligation to protect children’s human rights. Policy-making can break poverty cycles through its actions toward children. Social inclusion of children creates social cohesion and makes society more productive. Societies with these characteristics are more likely to prevent child poverty and to benefit from fewer costs associated with measures aimed at redressing inequity and its successive impacts, many of which cannot be redressed later in life. Equity for Children’s concept of equity holds that by approaching development through the lens of the most marginalized children instead of a focus on achieving economic growth, a ripple effect will result in widespread improvements throughout society.




Additional Resources from Equity for Children

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Equity for Children participated in the series of talks organized by MUNA-UNICEF Argentina to promote the exchange of knowledge and experiences among municipalities on various topics related to the rights of children and adolescents.

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