Save the Children Definition and Programmatic Focus on ‘Approaches to Equity’

An abstract of Save the Children’s definition and programmatic focus on approaches to equity.

Save the Children discusses equity in terms of fairness and is driven by a motivation to make public policy more socially just. By this Save the Children prioritizes interventions for the most disadvantaged, challenging entrenched disparities. 


According to Save the Children, income, age, caste, religion, place of residence and gender (as well as many other forms of group identity) may determine who benefits and who does not (Born Equal 1).


A Fair Chance at Life examines disparities that lie behind figures on child mortality and the advancements an equitable approach could make on this particularly crucial MDG. In addressing child mortality, the report also identifies access to healthcare, adequate diet, and “other key determinants of child survival” (A Fair Chance at Life vii).

An Equal Start looks at gender inequalities and how entrenched gender discrimination can impact on child and maternal health. It identifies a range of interventions needed to break cycles of inequality, marginalization and discrimination, particularly championing multi-sector initiatives that include protection, educational support, livelihood activities, legislative implementation and healthcare.

Born Equal, Save the children’s most recent piece of analysis, looks at different forms of vertical and horizontal inequality and how they impair children’s development chances as well as progress on all of the MDGs. Using a new measurement, called ‘effective available income per child,’ across 32 countries, the author’s conclude that a child in the richest 10% of households has 35 times the effective available income of a child in the poorest 10% of households and that this form of vertical inequality is worsening, jeopardizing children’s health, nutritional status, education, and vulnerability to violence and abuse (Born Equal 35).

Characteristics of the Save the Children Equity Approach

Save the Children’s approach is consistent with approaching inequity holistically and based on the demand-side (or needs of the most disadvantaged) in addressing overlapping disparities. More specifically, Save the Children finds the role of policies and consistent budget allocations to be essential in overcoming structural barriers for the most disadvantaged segments of society. The areas noted for development noted are nutrition, sanitation, the empowerment of women and social protection, all under a universal service model that promotes an equitable distribution of services. Save the Children also notes the importance of disaggregating data with respect to poverty and development in terms of wealth, gender “and other locally relevant sources of inequity” (A Fair Chance at Life vii).

Target Demographic  

Born Equal highlights children as the primary group to target because “inequalities experienced during childhood may have physical, psychological and opportunity effects throughout the rest of their lives” (Born Equal vi).

Theory & Justification for the Equity Approach

Save the Children cites the Convention on the Rights of the Child with respect to an obligation to protect and respect the rights of children in their approach. All three reports contain substantial research supporting the relative effectiveness of an equitable approach in comparison to prior strategies.

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