The social inclusion outcome of the UNICEF Strategic Plan, 2014–2017 encompasses UNICEF’s efforts to provide all children with an equitable chance in life by helping tackle poverty and deprivation, and address discrimination and exclusion. This includes assisting governments to measure and address child poverty, and to strengthen their social protection systems by making them more child sensitive. It also encompasses efforts to improve the use of domestic resources for children, aiming to ensure that public expenditure for children is efficient, equitable and effective, as well as transparent. UNICEF’s work on decentralization and local governance helps strengthen participatory mechanisms at local level and strengthen urban governance for children. UNICEF’s efforts on human rights, non-discrimination and participation help address the structural causes of discrimination and poverty. Social inclusion in settings where there is a humanitarian crisis includes efforts around preparedness, the use of cash transfers for emergency response, and accountability to affected populations.
As this strategic plan period ends, it is evident that there have been significant advances around the world in support of reducing child poverty and discrimination. Economic growth and positive social policy trends have translated into steady declines in extreme poverty; an increasing number of governments in middle- and low-income countries have sought to introduce or increase social protection coverage, and in some cases to increase or improve the quality of social spending. UNICEF has sought to contribute to and build on these trends. The explicit inclusion of both children and social protection in Sustainable Development Goal 1 (SDG 1) provides an important platform for continued and greater emphasis on children as part of such policies. This is critical, given that (despite progress) 385 million children still live in extreme poverty (less than US$1.90 per day) and 689 million children live in households deprived of nutrition, health care, education, or water and sanitation1 – thus being denied, from early on, an equitable chance in life.
Meanwhile, economic growth and poverty reduction have not benefited all countries. Those affected by political instability, declining revenues from natural resources or environmental disasters were particularly at risk. Such continued challenges underscore the importance of UNICEF’s continued efforts both to protect and improve the adequacy, efficiency, equity and effectiveness of social expenditure for essential social services for children.
Unprecedented levels of forced displacement and the resulting increase of children on the move were also dramatic features of the 2014–2017 period. Often invisible in poverty and other statistics, finding ways to identify and reach these children is a critical ongoing challenge, especially as both the impact of climate change and continued instability threaten to continue to uproot families.
Meanwhile, global agreements now reflect a consensus about the critical role of cash transfers and social protection systems. UNICEF has fully embraced these developments, which have and will continue to influence our work. Greater acknowledgment of the equal rights of children with disabilities has been an important achievement, aided by greater data and evidence, as well as global policy and standards in this sphere, aided by UNICEF and other partners. However, the gap in overall outcomes between children with and without disability has increased, creating added urgency for focused attention to this issue.
While recent evidence suggests a narrowing of inequalities between countries, inequalities within countries remain entrenched and may grow. UNICEF is uniquely placed to work with governments to meet this challenge, with focused, cost-effective approaches in two key areas: working with governments to universally recognize, measure and report child poverty as part of SDG and national plans of action; and devising policies and programmes that reach children living in poverty. Across this report are examples of UNICEF’s responses tailored specifically to address child poverty, from public finance for children to cash transfers for families in emergencies until governments can generate self-financed policy and programme change to make child poverty history.
Prioritizing social inclusion under a separate outcome in the UNICEF Strategic Plan, 2014–2017 allowed the organization to consolidate and invest over US$1.2 billion along with the efforts of over 195 professional staff in 155 country offices, 7 regional offices, and headquarters to make substantial advances in support of greater equity for children. The key results achieved against the strategic plan goals are described in detail in this report and quantified in Annex 2.
For more of the report: https://www.unicef.org/publicpartnerships/files/Annual_Results_Report_2017_Social_Inclusion.pdf