69 million children will die of preventable causes unless world leaders turn rhetoric into reality on fighting poverty, says Unicef in its yearly flagship report: The State of the World’s Children.
If the soul of a society can be judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable members, then by a similar measure, a society’s future – its long-term prospects for sustainable growth, stability and shared prosperity – can be predicted by the degree to which it provides every child with a fair chance in life. Providing every child with that fair chance is the essence of equitable development, and as this edition of The State of the World’s Children argues, promoting equity is more than a moral obligation. It is both a practical and a strategic imperative, helping to break intergenerational cycles of disadvantage and thus reducing the inequalities that undermine all societies.
Every child is born with the same inalienable right to a healthy start in life, an education and a safe, secure childhood – all the basic opportunities that translate into a productive and prosperous adulthood. But around the world, millions of children are denied their rights and deprived of everything they need to grow up healthy and strong – because of their place of birth or their family of origin; because of their race, ethnicity or gender; or because they live in poverty or with a disability.
The report’s call to action is motivated by a sense of urgency and the conviction that a different outcome, and a better world, are possible. Children born into poverty and deprivation are not doomed to live lives of despair. Inequity is not inevitable, if governments invest in expanding opportunity for every child – shifting policies, programming and public spending priorities so the most disadvantaged have a chance to catch up with the most advantaged.
For the most part, the constraints on reaching these children are not technical. They are a matter of political commitment, a matter of resources, and a matter of collective will – joining forces to tackle inequity and inequality head-on by focusing greater investment and effort on reaching the children who are being left behind.
As the report states: “investing in equity is not only a moral necessity. It is a practical and strategic imperative as well.” “Promoting equity – a fair chance for every child, for all children – is a choice. A choice we can make, and must make. For their future, and the future of our world”.
Report: The State of the World’s Children (PDF, 5 MB)