Children

People inside a dumpsite watch as some trash burns.

Effective and binding action is urgently required to protect the millions of children, adolescents and expectant mothers worldwide whose health is jeopardized by the informal processing of discarded electrical or electronic devices, according to a new WHO report. As many as 12.9 million women work in the informal waste sector, which potentially exposes them to toxic e-waste and puts them and their unborn children at risk. Meanwhile more than 18 million children and adolescents are actively engaged in the informal industrial sector, of which waste processing is a sub-sector. 

smiling boys on beach forming a pyramid

12 June is the World Day Against Child Labour. Today, more than 152 million kids are stuck working, sometimes in hazardous conditions. It’s time for change. More than 300 global stakeholders, from governments to organizations, have made 2021 Action Pledges. These practical plans outline the steps each stakeholder will take toward ending child labour. Global celebrities are doing their part. Samuel Eto’o, A.R. Rahman, and Laura Pausini among others, have already raised their voices for children. And individuals are, too! Anyone can join the global campaign to make a difference for children. Are you in? Get started!https://endchildlabour2021.org/individuals/

parents holding smiling little girl

Observed every year on 1 June, the Global Day of Parents provides an opportunity to appreciate all parents throughout the world for their "selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship." Families bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. Family-friendly workplace policies and practices help to promote children’s safety and wellbeing. Vaccines help to keep families and communities safe. They are the best hope we have of ending the COVID-19 pandemic and getting back to doing the things we enjoy with the people we love.

5 boys look out from behind a fence.

Delivering for children in Myanmar in a time of crisis

mother cuddling toddler

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the crisis of care and learning. With the disruption of school, playdates with friends and other beloved routines, regressive behaviours (difficulty with skills your child had formerly mastered such as toilet training and sleeping, and difficulties managing their feelings of anger, sadness and anxiety) have become increasingly common. UNICEF spoke to Nancy Close, PhD, Associate Director of the Yale Program in Early Childhood Education, about what you may be experiencing with your children (from toddlers to university students) and how to – with kindness and understanding – get through it together.

children with portable digital devices

A new guidance establishes that children have rights in the digital world, despite the Convention on the Rights of the Child not stating them explicitly.

girl standing behind other children wearing protective gear

Across virtually every key measure of childhood, progress has gone backward in the 12 months since the pandemic was declared, leaving children confronting a devastating and distorted new normal.The past year has seen an increase in children who have been left hungry, isolated, abused and anxious. The education of hundreds of millions of children has been disrupted. Access to protection services and health services – including routine vaccinations – has been severely impacted. The pandemic is also affecting young people’s mental health and pushing their families into poverty.

mother and newborn lying on hospital bed

New research from WHO and partners shows that the COVID-19 pandemic is severely affecting the quality of care given to small and sick newborns, resulting in unnecessary suffering and deaths. A study published in the Lancet EclinicalMedicine highlights the critical importance of ensuring newborn babies have close contact with parents after birth, especially for those born too small (at low birthweight) or too soon (preterm). However, in many countries, if COVID-19 infections are confirmed or suspected, newborn babies are being routinely separated from their mothers, putting them at higher risk of death and lifelong health complications.

young woman in a school room

COVID-19: A threat to progress against child marriage warns that school closures, economic stress, service disruptions, pregnancy, and parental deaths due to the pandemic are putting the most vulnerable girls at increased risk of child marriage. Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, 100 million girls were at risk of child marriage in the next decade, despite significant reductions in several countries in recent years. In the last ten years, the proportion of young women globally who were married as children had decreased by 15 per cent, a gain that is now under threat.

A group of smiling children in school uniform.

Child labour is work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity. It harms children mentally, physically, socially, and morally. It interferes with their schooling, preventing them from attending or concentrating. It may involve them being enslaved, separated from their families, and exposed to serious hazards and illnesses. Child labour has decreased by 38% in the last decade. But, 152 million children are still in child labour. ILO calls to accelerate the pace of progress. Take Action! Everyone can make a difference.

children enjoying school meal

The COVID-19 pandemic risks reversing a decade of hard-won gains in global efforts to provide nutritious food to the world’s most vulnerable children through a free daily meal in school. One in two schoolchildren, or 388 million children worldwide, were receiving school meals when the pandemic struck, the highest number in history, according to the State of School Feeding Worldwide report. By April 2020, 199 countries had closed their schools and 370 million children were suddenly deprived of what for many was their only nutritious meal of the day.

4 girls eating lunches from a metal lunchbox sitting at the same side of a desk.

Better health and nutrition allow children to learn and perform better, broadening their educational opportunities. School feeding empowers girls by dissuading parents from marrying them off early, acts as an incentive for families to enrol and keep children in school, relieves parents from having to budget for lunches. The WFP strategy (2020 – 2030) lays out its vision of working with governments and partners to jointly ensure that all primary schoolchildren have access to good quality meals in school, accompanied by a broader integrated package of health and nutrition services.

Yemen. A small child is fed a nutrition bar.

Nearly 2.3 million children under the age of five in Yemen are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021, four United Nations agencies have warned. Of these, 400,000 are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition and could die if they do not receive urgent treatment. The agencies also warned that these were among the highest levels of severe acute malnutrition recorded in Yemen since the escalation of conflict in 2015. Malnutrition damages a child’s physical and cognitive development, especially during the first two years of a child’s life. It is largely irreversible, perpetuating illness, poverty and inequality. The humanitarian response remains critically underfunded. 

Portrait of Henrietta Fore with the writing: Reimagine the future for every child, Vaccines for all, Revolutionize learning, Invest in mental health, End discrimination, Address the climate crisis.

In this year’s open letter, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore explains how we can reimagine a better post-COVID world for every child. COVID-19 is the first truly global crisis we have seen in our lifetime. No matter where we live, the pandemic affects every person – children most of all. The world needs to rally behind a plan to protect our children – a promise from our generation to the next to invest in health and education, build more resilient systems and services that can reach all children, and ensure that budget cuts and economic downturns do not harm them.