Nepal Sisters

Social protection is essential in preventing and reducing poverty for children and families, in addressing inequalities and in realizing children’s rights. Despite recent progress in many parts of the world, too many children live in poverty and are deprived of their most elementary rights. In, fact, in most parts of the world, children and families with children are at greater risk of poverty than other groups of the population, with respect to both monetary and other forms of poverty.

The consequences of poverty are very significant for children. Children experience poverty differently from adults; they have specific and different needs. While an adult may fall into poverty temporarily, a child who falls into poverty may be poor for a lifetime – rarely does a child get a second chance at an education or a healthy start in life. Even short periods of food deprivation can be detrimental to children’s long-term development. If children do not receive adequate nutrition, they lag behind their peers in size and intellectual capacity, are more vulnerable to life-threatening diseases, perform less well in school, and ultimately are less likely to be productive adults. Child poverty threatens not only the individual child, but is likely to be passed on to future generations, entrenching and even exacerbating inequality in society. Many of the 18,000 children under the age of five who die every day, mainly from prevent­able causes, could be saved through adequate social protection. Where children are ­deprived of a decent standard of living, access to quality health care, education and care, and where they suffer from social exclusion, their future is compromised. Where children are forced to engage in child labour, such exploitation takes a heavy toll on their physical and cognitive development, and on their future life chances. Child poverty affects not only the well-being and aspirations of individual children, but also the wider communities, societies and economies in which they live.

Photo credit: “The Human Side of the Nepal Crisis | Le côté humain de la crise au Népal” by DFTAD|MAECD (CC BY 2.0 via Flickr).


Expert Commentaries

Leaving No One Behind: Social protection for children from ethnic and linguistic minorities

“I would like to go for walks more. Now mom and dad don’t allow it because others discriminate against us. This happens to us all the time. People say that we are dirty and discuss our clothes.” Girl, 14-16, Roma, from Montenegro What does it mean for a child or an adolescent belonging to an […]

Challenging Assumptions: From child-focused to child-sensitive social protection

Few people would disagree that children need protection and support, and that they should receive priority in policy interventions, including social protection. These beliefs are underpinned by the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which has been ratified by 192 of 195 of the world’s countries. In the past decade, social protection […]

Are Conditional Cash Transfers Having an Impact on Achieving Access to Education? Some Answers from Argentina

The impact of Argentina’s Asignación Universal por Hijo Cash Transfer Programme on the right to education The conditions of poverty and exclusion that affect a great part of Latin America have led governments to create various social security programmes, directed primarily at the most vulnerable families and communities. Several governments, including those of Argentina, Colombia […]

Using Human Rights in the Courts to Broaden Social Protection—The South African Example

Human rights have an important role to play in supporting the objectives of social protection which include the prevention of poverty and inequality, ensuring solidarity and inclusion, and creating economically and socially fairer societies. They offer a normative basis and a legal imperative for requiring that states realize the right to social security for their […]


Inclusion of Vulnerable Groups

As a human right that is intrinsic to all, the international community recognizes the need to design and implement social protection systems according to the principle of social inclusion, underlying the particular need to include persons in the informal economy (Recommendation No. 202, para 3e). Delivery systems should therefore be particularly attuned to the challenges […]

Family and child benefits

Child and family benefits, in cash and in kind, play a particularly important role in realizing children’s rights and addressing their needs, particularly for the most vulnerable members of society. Evidence from many parts of the world demonstrates that social protection benefits have led to a marked improvement in children’s nutritional status. Cash transfer programmes […]

Legal Instruments

Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202)

Recommendation No. 202 is the first international instrument to offer guidance to countries to close social security gaps and progressively achieve universal protection through the establishment and maintenance of comprehensive social security systems. To this aim, the Recommendation calls for (1) the implementation, as a priority, of social protection floors (SPF) as a fundamental element […]

Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), 1989

Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 26 recognizes for every child the right to benefit from social security, including social insurance. In addition, Article 27(1) recognizes the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development. Under Article 27(2) and (3), States […]

Legal Cases

Children’s welfare in Senegal

This case addresses the plight of as many as 100,000 children (known as talibés), who while attending Qur’anicschools (daaras) in Senegal, are forced by some instructors to beg in the streets, to secure their own survival and enrich the teachers. The children live away from their families, often in deplorable conditions, and are exposed to […]

Women and children’s social and economic rights (including health) in Uganda

Nature of the Case The case was brought on behalf of a pregnant woman who died in a hospital while awaiting obstetric care. It considers whether the hospital failed to provide appropriate obstetric care and management, thereby violating her rights as well as those of her surviving children. Summary On May 5, 2011, Irene Nanteza […]

Equal access to health and family planning information for all women in Hungary

The communication was filed with regards to the alleged forced sterilization of an ethnic Roma woman by medical staff pursuant to an emergency caesarian section that was required to remove a deceased fetus. The Committee found that previous medical care, the poor medical condition of the victim, A.S., upon arrival at the hospital, short time […]

Coherent Constitutions and the Right to Social Protection for Adopted Children in Taiwan

The Judicial Yuan, a body responsible for interpreting the Constitution, examined the constitutionality of provisions in the Statute for Labor Insurance preventing children adopted within less than six months of the death of their adoptive parents from collecting social insurance benefits as survivors. The Court held that despite the intentions of the provision to prevent […]


The Political Economy of Mineral Resource Governance and Children’s Rights in Papua New Guinea

Papua  New  Guinea  has  had  a diverse history  of  contestation  over  resource  revenues during  its past forty  years  since  independence. The  major  actors  have  been  the national and provincial level governments and politicians, international development agencies,  resources  companies  and  local  landowners  in  project  development areas. This paper explores the debates over decentralization and the distribution […]

Mapping the Global Goals for Sustainable Development and the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Introduction Aim. This interactive document aims to encourage an in-depth and broad-based exploration of the links and synergies between the Global Goals for Sustainable Development and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Background. It complements the 2-page document produced by UNICEF in January 2016 which presents preliminary mapping of the current priority Global […]

The State of the World’s Children 2016: A fair chance for every child

Every child has the right to health, education and protection, and every society has a stake in expanding children’s opportunities in life. Yet, around the world, millions of children are denied a fair chance for no reason other than the country, gender or circumstances into which they are born. The State of the World’s Children […]

Case Study On The St. Lucia National Eligibility Test

Establishing gender and child responsive social protection schemes that ensure universal access to health care including maternity care, and basic income security, will protect women and their families from the effects of economic shocks and crises that may result in job and wage losses. UN Women and UNICEF through the UN Joint Programme on Social […]

Social Protection for Child Rights and Well-Being in Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia (Advocacy Brief)

Social protection can help guarantee adequate living standards for children and contribute to the realization of their rights. Investing in it helps States build more cohesive societies, more resilient communities and stronger economies. To fight child poverty and social and economic vulnerability, countries need to develop well-integrated social protection systems that speak to children’s specific […]

Social Protection for Child Rights and Well-Being in Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia

The theme of the 2015 Social Monitor, Social Protection for Child Rights and Well-being in Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, aims to focus the attention of policy makers on the successes as well as the gaps in delivering on their commitments to protect children’s rights. The specific objective of the analysis […]

Making Social Protection Work for Children in Central and Eastern Europe, The Caucasus and Central Asia: Findings and Recommendations

This brief, which is based on the UNICEF report Social Monitor: Social Protection for Child Rights and Well-Being in Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, provides key findings and recommendations related to social protection for children in the region.

Extending Social Protection to Children (South Africa)

Of the 23 million children under the age of 18 in South Africa, about 60 per cent lives in poverty. The Child Support Grant (CSG), introduced in 1998, initially covered only 10 per cent of poor children. Incremental changes in the eligibility criteria and successful awareness-raising campaigns increased the coverage to 11.7 million poor children […]

Child Wellbeing and Social Security in Georgia: The case for moving to a more inclusive national social security system

Georgia’s introduction of a Child Benefit in 2015 was a significant step forward for children. Yet much more is needed. This paper shows that the vast majority of children in Georgia experience insecure lives and are in need of additional support from the State. The expansion of the Child Benefit to the majority of children […]

Toward a System of Basic Cash Transfers for Children and Older Persons: An estimation of efforts, impacts and possibilities in Latin America

This paper seeks to estimate the costs and impacts of expanding the coverage and improving the quality of cash transfers to older people and to families with young children in the countries of Latin America.