Towards a World Free from Child Poverty
EXPERIENCING poverty in childhood has a profound impact on the growth of children, as their physical and mental health shape their futures. Reducing child poverty, especially with a focus on children living in rural areas, and promoting their healthy growth and overall development, is an important way not only to break the inter-generational cycle of poverty, but also to implement the long- term poverty alleviation strategy, achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and promote social development and social equity,” said Dr. Zuo Changsheng, director- general of the International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC) at the parallel session of 2017 Global Poverty Reduction and Development Forum with the theme of “Towards a World Free from Child Poverty: Multidimensional Child Poverty,” co-organized by IPRCC and UNICEF.
Poverty Threatens Children’s Lives
Around the world, children are overrepresented in populations living in extreme poverty. The effects of poverty on young children are often irreversible because they can affect a kid’s physical, mental, and emotional development. For example, if children do not get adequate nutrition in their first two years, they can become stunted for life.
UNICEF’s statistics show that in China’s remote rural areas, the living expenses of 15 million children is less than RMB eight per day. Over one third of children are left behind as their parents seek work in more developed areas. The mortality rate of rural children under five years old is double that in urban areas, and the growth retardation rate triples. The gross admission rate of preschool education is also lower in rural China.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals proposed to halve the population of children mired in poverty by 2030, and eventually end poverty in all forms everywhere.
Putting children first in national poverty alleviation efforts is the most effective way of breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty, supporting children to grow and develop to their fullest potential, and driving national development and growth.
In 2011, in order to meet the needs of child development and break the transition of poverty from one generation to the next, the Chinese government issued the National Program for Child Development (2011-2020), proposing major targets and policies in five areas: health, education, welfare, social environment, and legal protection. At the same time, the Rural Poverty Alleviation and Development Program (2011-2020) clearly stipulates the importance of rural child development for poverty alleviation and requires government at all levels to give priority to women and children.
Developing Children’s Fullest Potential
Throughout the parallel session, experts from the government, non-profit, private, and academic sectors as well as international organizations discussed the different dimensions of ending child poverty and its significance, and shared the experience of establishing Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers in Hubei Province.
The mountainous region in Central China’s Hubei Province is gloomy and cold in early winter. In a small activity room of Wangjiaping Village, eight children and their parents sit together, with books and toys stacked in one corner.
Since 2012, with UNICEF China’s assistance, the All-China Women’s Federation has set up community-based ECD centers in poor rural areas affected by urban migration in Hubei, Hunan, and other provinces. Wangjiaping of Wufeng County is a pilot village. UNICEF has
UNICEF’s expert Li Tong pays a regular visit to the ECD center established in a village of Hubei Province and teaches parents better ways to raise their children.