Improving Children's Lives, Transforming the Future

A UNICEF report examines the ways in which the lives of children, in eight countries of South Asia, have changed over the last 25 years.

Full report

Priya Pillai of Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT) selected findings and messages that are relevant to STRIVE.

  1. Persistent gender discrimination remains a reality, undermining progress on all fronts. Gender based violence, abuse and exploitation continue to affect millions of children in South Asia. Furthermore, children and adolescents are systematically denied the opportunity – by their families and the wider community – to speak for themselves on crucial issues: which career to pursue, when and whom to marry, whether and when to start a family. 
  2. Children born to women without access to education are more often stunted. Lack of access to formal education for girls and women is closely linked to poor child nutrition in South Asia. In Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka the prevalence of stunting among children born to women without formal education is two and a half times higher, (ranging from 41 to 57 percent) than among children born to women who have completed secondary education (14-26 percent).
  3. Women who have completed secondary or higher education have a medically trained provider at birth.
  4. Poverty has many guises – it is seen in households with too little money and in patchy and unfair access to health care, education and protection services. It is also seen in the discrimination that marginalizes women, certain ethnic groups and low-caste individuals.
  5. Efforts to improve survival should not be over-medicalised, wider social determinants of health are also important, especially the wealth and education status of a child’s mother.
  6. In India there is a 50-percentage-point difference (25 percent versus 74 percent) between the birth registration rates of children born to uneducated mothers and children born to highly educated mothers. This is yet another demonstration of the importance for future generations of ensuring that girls have access to education.

The report asks what have we achieved? What still needs to be done – and by whom? How do we fast track results for children with the Sustainable Development Goals?

We are united in our belief that everybody in South Asia has an obligation – and the potential – to do more to realise the rights of every single child in the region. Not only is this a moral imperitive, but an economic necessity. Our children, the future leaders of this region, hold the key to well- being and prosperity for future generations." Karin Hulshof, Regional Director for UNICEF South Asia

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