Progress on the Millennium Goals Depends on Ensuring Children’s Rights to Education, Healthcare and Protection
NEW YORK / GENEVA, 7 June 2005 – Children must top the agenda if the world is going to achieve its development goals, UNICEF said today.
Welcoming The Millennium Development Goals 2005, a status report launched Tuesday by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman noted that the goals are focused on children and women.
“These goals are not just development targets, but benchmarks of what can be achieved for children,” Ms. Veneman said. “If we care about making progress on development, we have to care about children. Not one of the MDGs will be attained if childhood continues to be threatened by extreme poverty.”
The UN study states that despite progress toward achieving the MDGs, billions of people are being left behind. For example, more than 25 per cent of children under age 5 in developing countries are malnourished.
“We must be serious about reducing extreme poverty and hunger – the first Millennium Development Goal,” Veneman said.
HIV/AIDS is seriously undermining development progress, the study notes. More than 20 million people have died of HIV/AIDS in the past 25 years. Globally, more than 15 million children have lost at least one parent to HIV/AIDS, the vast majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
The study underscores the importance of education for development, noting that 115 million children are out of school, and girls are still lagging behind boys in enrollment. Increasing enrollment rates, particularly for girls, has a dramatic effect on both short and long-term development, as children of educated women are more than twice as likely to be in school as children whose mothers have not been educated. Children of educated mothers also are more likely to be vaccinated, to be able to protect themselves against HIV and to find employment.
Veneman said that guaranteeing children an education, healthcare and protection from abuse and exploitation are central to achieving the development goals.
“UNICEF’s mission for children is central to achieving the Millennium Development Goals,” Veneman said. “Long-term sustainable gains for development require investment in the health, protection and education of children.”
For nearly 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 157 countries to help children survive and thrive from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF works to advance the Millennium Development Goals by supporting child health and nutrition, quality basic education for all boys and girls, access to clean water and sanitation, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of governments, businesses, foundations and individuals.