Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Child poverty and the girl child

Living in a state of poverty which infers living below a certain income level and being deprived the right to access basic needs – information, health care, education housing, sanitation, hygiene, adequate and nutritious food, freshwater - has a disproportional impact on children, who are physically more vulnerable to the effects of these deprivations (CEPAL, UNICEF, 2012).

As stated by the CEPAL/ UNICEF study, ‘poverty when present during childhood, demonstrates a lack of the exercise and title of rights, and in effect the negation of citizenship’. Addressing it is not only vital for child survival but also for ensuring child well-being and child well-becoming. The study revealed that 56% of children in lower and middle income Latin American countries experienced one or more severe deprivations. In a separate section it highlights the gender perspective of child poverty and describes the contribution of the inter- generational reproduction of the gender division of labour, especially concerning key themes such as child labour and school desertion, to girl child poverty (CEPAL, UNICEF, 2012).

In Latin America, as in many parts of the world, girl child labour commonly involves domestic activities that are often unremunerated. Such work is often disruptive to their education (if not a complete obstacle) and when outside of the home, exposes them to different forms of mistreatment and abuse. This situation, argues the paper, also contributes to the development of an occupational pattern whereby the care of others becomes the natural and almost exclusive responsibility of girl children (CEPAL, UNICEF, 2012).

There is increasing discussion of the need to focus on children as a specific vulnerable group, who have a right to have their voice listened to, be involved in measuring their own well-being using subjective measures and as a result, be the unit of analysis in such assessments. However, within this campaign it is easy to forget the specific needs of sub-groups such as girl children, who face in effect double vulnerability due to their age and gender and, for whom current campaigns and measurements may not be sufficient to ensure their well-being and well-becoming. 

Analysis of the effect of girl child labour on inter-generational poverty infers another element of the interdependence of the well-being of girl children and that of their mothers’. Although household and time use activities change over time, women’s use of time is different to that of men’s (Stiglitz, Sen, Fitoussi 2009) and in this respect, their well-being influences that of their children. Consequently the economic autonomy and decision making power of women/mothers, has an influence on a girl child’s chances of not living in poverty and being inserted into a more equal world (CEPAL, UNICEF, 2012).

The application of non monetary indicators to track girl’s and women’s time use which reveal the activities undertaken and opportunities missed can help to build evidence of the need to address gender inequalities and barriers to opportunities - which commence from a young age - as well as how to address them and help to contribute to breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

Minujin A, 2012, Global Child Poverty and Well-Being: Measurement, Concept, Policy and Action,
Stiglitz, Sen, Fitoussi 2009, Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress,
UNICEF, CEPAL, 2012, Pobreza Infantil en America Latina y el Caribe, Santiago

No comments:

Post a Comment