Progresses for children help realise Sustainable Development Goals: UN report

Wednesday, 2016-07-06 17:45:28
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Two children from Lao Cai province, 17-year-old Mong ethnic Chau Thi Tao (right) from Lao Cai Centre for Social Work Services and 14-year-old Phu La ethnic Vang Van Hoang from Na Hoi Secondary School in Bac Ha district, represent Vietnamese children to raise their voice at the launch on issues related to children’s quality of life and other issues intimately related to children. (Credit: NDO)
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NDO – Progress for the most disadvantaged children and families is the defining condition for delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals for generations to come, according to a recent UNICEF report.

Released in Hanoi on July 6, the latest annual flagship report The State of the World’s Children 2016 - A Fair Chance for Every Child is dedicated to equality for children. It points to evidence that investing in the most vulnerable children can yield immediate and long-term benefits for the country.

Speaking at the launch, UNICEF Representative Youssouf Abdel-Jelil said that the global report brings the perspective of several countries in the world showing that the right choices can change the lives of millions of children.

For instance, each additional year of schooling completed in the national average, can reduce a country's poverty rate by 9%. Each additional year of education a child receives increases his or her adult earnings by about 10%. Solutions such as cash transfers can help children stay in school longer and advance to higher levels of education which will benefit the whole country.

Inequality is neither inevitable, nor insurmountable and reaching the forgotten children must be central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals with a sharper focus on those left behind, Youssouf Abdel-Jelil stressed.

The UN official also said that denying millions of children a fair chance in life fueled the intergenerational cycles of disadvantage, and imperiled the future of the society, adding that Vietnam has the choice to invest now to give a fair chance to every child and to make the country more equal and inclusive.

The report notes that significant progress has been made in saving children’s lives, getting children into school and lifting people out of poverty. In Vietnam, poverty rates declined from 58% to 10% between 1993 and 2014. The child mortality rate fell from 36 per 1,000 live births in 1990, down to 10 per 1,000 in 2014.

It also indicates that better data on the most vulnerable children, integrated solutions to the challenges children face, innovative ways to address old problems, more equitable investment and increased involvement from communities can help level the playing field for children.

Vietnam’s increasingly improved policies and law system, along with strong support from international organisations, especially UNICEF, and the country’s long-term proven political commitments have been an advantage to all children, said Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Doan Mau Diep.

Vietnam is the first country in Asia and second in the world to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, fulfill its commitments to the international community and to exercise the rights of children on the principle of ensuring the best interests for children and non-discrimination.

The government has continued to perfect the system of laws and policies on children, with approval from the National Assembly for the Child Law on April 4, 2016. The law is expected to take effect June 1 next year, creating a relatively complete legal framework for child care and protection, Diep said.

Many programmes and policies for children have been approved by the Prime Minister as the National Action Programme for Children for the 2012-2020 period; the Programme that promotes children's participation right to children's issues during the 2016-2020 period; the prevention programme of accidents and injuries in children for the 2016-2020 period; National Action Plan for Children Affected by HIV/AIDS in 2014-2020; and policy to provide cardiac surgery for children with congenital heart diseases.

Support will look at addressing barriers and bottlenecks that keep children away from the support and services they need, said Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, stressing that laws like the recently adopted Child Law set the tone for a positive transformation. However, continued support is needed to translate the commitment into action through equity-focused programmes and public spending.

He also affirmed UNICEF and other UN agencies’ commitments to support Vietnam to accelerate the pace of progress in reaching the most disadvantaged, vulnerable and excluded children in order to achieve the 2030 goals.