World Day News
Africa, 4 September 2012 (Leadership) - There are no records of the existence for approximately half of all the children on the African continent, says United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
The births of these children were never registered, meaning the state knows nothing of their existence and are making no provisions for them, says Cornelius Williams, Regional Adviser: Child Protection at the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Williams, from UNICEF's Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office, is one of the delegates at the 2nd Civil Registration and Vital Statics conference currently underway in Durban, South Africa.
"Could you imagine a child not having an identity, not having an existence written down and so you're born, you live your life, you die and you never existed in any document...It's like you were never there. There's no official record of your existence as a human being," he said.
Birth registrations were particularly poor in countries like Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda, Williams added.
Children who were not registered were immediately at a disadvantage because with no record of their existence, planning for their future proved to be difficult.
"Increasingly what we are finding out is that when it comes to planning, government plans don't cover these children, especially if they come from marginalised communities... They don't plan for you and if you are caught breaking the law, you treated like an adult because you don't have a birth certificate to show that you're not an adult.
"This means the law that protects children will not protect you," he pointed out.
Williams attributed the blame for non-registration to both governments and parents.
"Countries do not have proper systems in place. They are still dealing with outdated, colonial relics - laws that have never been modernised, systems that have not been modernised. You have paper based systems.
"There is still a country that uses the typewriters. They have two typewriters in their national office that is used to type birth certificates because that's the law and the law is outdated," Williams said.
The civil registration system of such countries could not be digitalised because there was no money for it.
Another barrier was the cost factor of the documents.
"In one African country, we did a calculation and it cost $25 for someone in a rural area to travel all the way to a town centre to register their child and get a certificate. It costs $25 in a poor country where you have majority of people living on less than $1 a day," he pointed out.
With regards to parents, he said that some, particularly those in rural areas, did not see the need for their children to have birth certificates as they were not expected to attend school.
Others only showed urgency in registering their children when the child needed to go to school or access services from the state.
"When the child needs something from the state that requires proof of identity then it kicks in. It's the private use that drives the need for registration."
However, the situation was looking up, with Africa finally beginning to acknowledge the importance of civil registration.
"Proof of that is the Africa countries gathered here...They have recognised they can't have a modern state without civil registration... With this conference we are now seeing a movement. There is a movement and growing recognition that Africa must changes," he added.
Policy makers and political leaders were finally talking about and tackling the issue, Williams noted.
Fifty-four African Ministers responsible for civil registration and vital statistics are involved in this year's conference, as well as about 500 delegates from African countries including senior civil registration technical experts, development partners, young statisticians and professional associations.
The Ministerial Conference will get underway on 6 and 7 September and will be chaired by Home Affairs Minister and Chairperson of the AU Commission Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.Read the original article on the Leadership website.
The GNRC Fourth Forum took place June 16-18, 2012 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, launching a new interfaith initiative called "Mobilizing Faith-based Resources to End Child Poverty." The global gathering brought together religious leaders, child-rights workers, UN officials and civil society representatives from around the world. This page contains links to all the resources from the Forum.
During conflict and its aftermath, if international attention turns to women at all, it focuses on violence by armed men. The International Rescue Committee's new study of post-conflict West Africa has found that the most dangerous place for a woman is often in her own home.
In more than 15 years of providing services to women affected by violence, the International Rescue Committee has seen enormous progress in the number and quality of programmes and services designed to keep women safe. These efforts have overwhelmingly focused in the public side of violence—risks faced outside the home. The IRC’s new study, Let Me Not Die Before My Time (also available for download from the publications link at the bottom of this page), based on a decade of working with women in Liberia, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone, has found that more than 60 percent of women seeking assistance from the IRC in West Africa are survivors of violence committed by a partner.
Violence in the home takes many forms. Physical assault is most often reported and can range from being pushed or punched, to rape, attack with weapons like machetes and even burnings. However, violence in the home also includes emotional and economic abuse. Men limit women’s access to food or deny them control of money needed to buy medicine for a sick child or to pay school fees. Domestic violence not only poses a risk to women’s lives and health, but critically undermines efforts to pull societies affected by conflict out of poverty.
The scale of domestic violence is not unique to West Africa. The IRC’s experience in the Democratic Republic of the Congo indicates high levels of violence in the home, while our recent emergency assessment of people displaced by fighting in the Nuba Mountains in South Sudan revealed that domestic violence was the most common form of violence experienced by women. Despite such evidence, the humanitarian community—donors, nongovernmental organisations and UN agencies—has still not prioritised domestic violence as a humanitarian issue. This must change.
Some facts and figures:
- Since 1996, the IRC has provided assistance to women and girls affected by violence through innovative programmes in 20 countries around the world. With more than 300 field staff, the IRC not only provides care and treatment to survivors of violence, but also works to prevent further violence, and to stimulate long-term change, by empowering women in their daily lives.
- In 2011, the IRC counselled and cared for nearly 16,000 survivors of sexual violence and educated and mobilised over 590,000 men, women and children to lead prevention efforts in their communities.
What you can do!
On the occasion of Mother's Day 2012, IRC-UK launched Wake Up, our online pledge drive aimed at raising awareness about the challenges faced by women and girls around the world and highlighting simple ways to help them survive and thrive.
Some things can wait until tomorrow. Standing up for women and girls isn’t one of them.
To find out more about the Wake Up campaign, and crucially, to sign the pledge, see here
Ten Promises to Our Children: A Multi Religious Commitment calls for specific actions to save and improve the lives of children. World Day Chair, Kul Gautam details the impressive history of the Child Survival Revolution which saved an estimated 25 million lives and highlights an ambitious new initiative, Child Survival – A Call to Action which was launched in D.C. on 14 June.
USAID and UNICEF: A Winning Partnership for Child Survival and Development
Distinguished Speakers Series in Celebration of 50th Anniversary of USAID
Washington, DC, 6 June 2012
I feel immensely honoured to be asked to address this impressive gathering as part of the Distinguished Speakers Series in Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). And I am particularly thrilled to speak about USAID’s historic contribution and leadership role in what came to be known as a global Child Survival and Development Revolution (CSDR), of which we are celebrating the 30th anniversary this year.
The Secretariat is pleased to announce that modest funding base is avilable to supplement local “take action” programs in the field. Interested organizations, including Council members and their affiliates, may apply for one-time “seed monies” to coordinate a “take action” program for DPAC 2012.
Applicants would be accepted based on a review process from the Secretariat in consultation with the World Day Chairs.