Even though India’s latest ranking is a dismal 113 in a rating of 176 countries on End of Childhood Index, it has been able to prevent 2 million births from adolescent mothers since 2000, according to a 2019 survey done by the 100-year old NGO Save a Child.
However, stunting of children due to malnutrition continues to be a big concern for India. Even though this has come down by 30% from 2000, the percentage of stunted children is still around 38% which is a big concern and also a massive shame.
- India has registered a decline in teenage girls giving birth (15 to 19 years) by 63% since 2000 and 75% since 1990.
- This reduction has resulted in 2 million fewer births
- Child marriage is down 51% since 2000 and 63% since 1990
- Child labour in the 5-14 years is down by 70%
One in Four Still Denied Childhood
According to the survey, despite progress globally “yet 1 in 4 children are still denied the right to childhood, with children living in or fleeing conflict zones among the most vulnerable.”
The survey, released end of May 2019 noted that at least 280 million children, or 1 in 8, are dramatically better off today than at any time in the past two decades. Global Childhood Report ranks the best and worst countries for children by examining factors that rob children of their childhoods around the world such as child labor, teen pregnancy, exclusion from education, and children fleeing conflict zones.
In the United States, which ranks 36th, the rate of teens giving birth has dropped by more than half since 2000, and school dropout rates have fallen by nearly two-thirds. Tied with China, the U.S. has also cut chronic malnutrition and child marriage by a third, and the rate of children dying before their fifth birthdays by a fifth.
The report finds that since 2000, circumstances for children have improved in 173 out of 176 countries. Globally, there has been progress on every End of Childhood Index indicator but one – children suffering due to conflict.
There has been an 80 percent rise in the number of people forced to flee their homes due to conflict – 30.5 million more people since 2000. Ongoing wars in Syria and Yemen have significantly contributed to this surge, as well as protracted conflicts in places including Iraq and South Sudan.
In every other area, however, there has been significant progress for children since 2000:
49% drop in the under-5 child death rate
40% drop in child labor
33% drop in chronic malnutrition/stunting
33% drop in out-of-school children
25% drop in child marriage
22% drop in adolescent pregnancy
17% drop in child homicides
The report calls out 10 factors driving this change for children, which include the Millennium Development Goals, commitments from governments, social investments, new technologies, social media and increased female leadership at all levels.
“We examined 18 years of data – the span of a childhood – and found that sustained investment in child-focused policies has greatly increased children’s chances to grow up healthy, educated and safe,” said Carolyn Miles, President & CEO of Save the Children.
Singapore tops the rankings as the country that best protects and provides for its children, with eight Western European countries and South Korea also ranking in the top 10. The most dramatic progress is among some of the world’s poorest countries, with Sierra Leone making the biggest improvements since 2000, followed by Rwanda, Ethiopia and Niger. The Central African Republic is the country where childhood is most threatened, followed by Niger and Chad.
“While progress has been remarkable, we now need to ensure every last child receives the childhood he or she deserves. These findings make a powerful case for more investment in child-sensitive development – from strengthening legal frameworks, to improving health systems, to empowering teenagers to make life choices that set them on a path to realize their full potential. It all counts,” Miles added.
Read the Global Childhood Report here.
Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding 100 years ago, we’ve changed the lives of more than 1 billion children. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share.
Image courtesy – Firstpost – Flicker/SAM Nasim