Panel 3: Childhood and vulnerability: Compounding risk during crises
Chair and opening presentation: Jody Heymann, McGill University, Canada
Jody Heymann is the Founding Director of the Institute for Health and Social Policy, the WORLD Global Data Centre, and the Project on Global Working Families. An internationally renowned researcher on health and social policy, Dr. Heymann holds a Canada Research Chair in Global Health and Social Policy. She has authored and edited over 150 publications, including Profit at the Bottom of the Ladder (Harvard Business Press, forthcoming), Raising the Global Floor (Stanford University Press, 2009), Trade and Health (McGill Queens University Press, 2007), Forgotten Families (Oxford University Press, 2006), Healthier Societies (Oxford University Press, 2006) and Unfinished Work (New Press, 2005). Heymann has led the development of a unique graduate and undergraduate multidisciplinary training program that bridges research and policy development with students gaining experience in 18 countries.
Impact of the economic crises on early childhood: An examination of mediating pathways with implications for national policy. Pia Rebello Britto, Yale University, USA.
Abstract: Never before has the issue of child poverty been more vital and important for public policy, then during this present time of the global economic downturn. Currently it is estimated that over 1 billion children, worldwide, live in poverty. This rate is predicted to rise due to the financial crises. During the early years, young children bear the greatest burden of poverty as evidenced in the noted perverted health, development, and education outcomes. Yet, early childhood is the most sensitive period for development, health and education, most particularly if the potential for later catch-up in limited. Research has cogently demonstrated that poverty effects on young children are mediated through several proximal contextual pathways, such as household structure, home environment, caregiving practices and the primary caregiver. The proximal environments of low-income children contain a confluence of psychosocial and physical risk factors with known adverse developmental outcomes. It is these very pathways that are affected by financial, food and fuel shortages, with ramifications for young children’s development. At the same time, research on program interventions has also produced a formidable body of literature on how these pathways can be bolstered and sustained to improve early childhood outcomes.
The focus of the paper is on an examination of these proximal pathways with implications for policy directives. In particular the paper will present an analysis of the links between the macro level aspects of global economic crises and micro level aspects of psychosocial interactions and the physical proximal environment of the household. Also presented will be a range of proven program interventions known to address these pathways effectively. The aim of presenting these programs is to provide recommendations for national policy directives and potential governmental response.
Pia Rebello Britto’s area of expertise is early child development and education programming and policy. Dr. Rebello Britto is currently working, with Sharon Lynn Kagan and a UNICEF team, in over 15 countries on the development of national standards and indicators for monitoring child development outcomes. She is also working with national governments to formulate their early childhood policies and on evaluating early intervention programs in several countries. Domestically, Dr. Rebello Britto is conducting research to understand the experience of growing up Muslim in the United States and the influence of the present socio-political context on young Muslim children’s identity development.
Global economic crisis: The challenges of girl-child education and alternative jobs in Nigeria. Femi Tinuola, Kogi State University, Nigeria.
Abstract: UNICEF reported in 2006 that Nigerian children dropped-out-of-school work in public places i.e., the streets and markets with 64percent as street vendors and 13 percent as beggars. Real life experiences indicate that the current global economic crisis may have worsened the state of the Nigerian-girl- child in accessing education and finding alternative jobs risky to their health and well being. The Education Minister reported on April 25, 2008 that 62 percent of over 11 million children-of-school age who roamed the street are females. The UN, AU and Nigeria charters on the child rights guarantee access to education at all levels and eradication of all forms of child abuse. This study examines the effects of the GEC on the education of the girl-child and engagement in alternative jobs. This study was conducted among six ethnic groups in three States in Nigeria. Data were obtained from 1200 female children between 6 – 14 years selected on purposive random sampling technique in markets, motor parks, toll gates and streets, engaged in hawking. About 50 selected parents went through sessions on in-depth interview. They responded to a semi- structured questionnaire which contains items on demographic characteristics, educational history, parents’ economic conditions, hawking and paid housework.
Findings show that 45 percent recently dropped out of school and engaged hawking to enhance self and family economy, make an average of USD1 gains daily. Hawking takes place in crowded markets, hotels and busy road junctions. There are reported cases of child-sexual abuse for fee. Four percent of the children in paid housework were impregnated resulting in clandestine abortion and adolescence mothers. The need to improve the socio-economic conditions of parents and policy frame implementation that offer socio-economic protection for girl child will reduce the trend.
Femi Tinuola holds MSc Medical Sociology and Ph. D Degree in Population Health from University of Ado Ekiti, Nigeria with additional training under the WHO, Tropical Disease (TDR) in Ethics and Codes in research in Public Health. He is currently, Senior Lecturer, Population Health, Department of Sociology, Kogi State University, Anyigba, Nigeria where he teaches and research in Health Sociology, Demography, Social Statistics and Research Methods. He specializes in Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, Social Epidemiology and Population Health. He has been involved in the study of social, cultural and economic factors influencing sexual health and reproductive rights, health care utilization among young women in a Democratic Nigeria for about a decade. Dr Femi Tinuola, a scholarship recipient of the International Association for the Study of Sexuality and Culture, Peru,
Latin America and Population Council, Kenya, is a member of many International Academic Associations.
Children’s perspectives on risk and vulnerability in contexts of poverty and change. Uma Vennam, Oxford, Young Lives, UK.
Abstract: This exploratory paper is based on research carried out by Young Lives, a long-term study (2000-2015) of childhood poverty in Ethiopia, India (Andhra Pradesh), Peru and Vietnam. The paper presents emerging analysis of research carried out in 2008 with a group of young people, aged 12 to 14, growing up in Andhra Pradesh. One aspect of the study was to elicit children’s views on changes over a one-year period (2007-2008) affecting their households and communities, including in relation to broader economic crisis. While a positive economic ‘turnaround’ has been noted for Andhra Pradesh in recent years, there is still a considerable degree of poverty and regional disparities. In our study, children identified both negative and positive changes in their households and communities, including the notable increase in food prices, which they viewed as a risk to child well-being. They described how financial crisis impacts on their time-use, for example, balancing school and work, as well as how they experience the various programmes aimed to protect them (Midday Meal Scheme, NREGS, child sponsorship, etc). They not only provide critical commentary on how economic and political changes impact on children, they also discuss how children and their families cope with change (for example by eating less or working more) and what communities and governments could do to better protect different groups of children in these contexts. Children’s views on risk and vulnerability reflected the differing circumstances of their livelihoods and of their local environments. They were knowledgeable and at times critical of the various services and programmes in their communities. Overall, their participation in the research was active and engaged and their insights into community change were indicative of their awareness and involvement in their household economies and wider societies. Their experiences demonstrated that children are not only ‘impacted’ by crisis, but that they are also active in managing the risks associated with poverty.
Uma Vennam has a MA in social work specialising in Urban and Rural Community Develompent from Tata Institute of Social Sciences Bombay, and holds a PhD form the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England. She is currently a professor of social work at Sri Padmavathi Mahila Visvavidyalayam. She has been involved in various projects dealing with poverty alleviation, rural livelihoods, SLMF, poverty and HIV/AIDS, trafficking in women and children, child labour and AIDS prevention
Crisis impacts on children vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Ken Legins, UNICEF.
Abstract: This paper focuses on the Triple F crisis and its potential effects on children living with and vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Children are often relatively invisible in global HIV/AIDS policy debates but given that globally they make up 6% of the infected population but 14% of total deaths, child-specific vulnerabilities deserve urgent attention. The paper begins by drawing on a modified version of a conceptual framework developed by Harper et al. (2009) to understand the impact pathways through which macro-level shocks are translated into meso- and micro-level impacts on children living with or vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and their care-givers. It then turns to a discussion of the effects of the crisis on children already infected by HIV as well as children likely to be rendered more vulnerable to infection, drawing on existing grey and published literature as well as interviews with select national and international governmental, international agency and non-governmental stakeholders. While this evidence is still very fragmented, it does highlight that significant worrying trends are already emerging. The next section of the paper then focuses on the policy choices national governments and international health financing donors are making in the context of the crisis. It considers both pre-existing HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention services, HIV/AIDS-specific and broader social protection programmes and crisis-specific responses. Section 5 then seeks to illustrate findings from Sections 3 and 4 through a select number of country snapshots from hyper-epidemic countries in Southern Africa; Thailand, as an example of a country where the pandemic has largely affected the commercial sex trade; and Russia, an example of a country where the pandemic tends to be concentrated among intravenous drug users, although is spilling over to the broader population as well. Section 6 concludes with key policy recommendations. These include the necessity of developing more child-sensitive crisis monitoring systems in order to better understand real time impacts on children, as well as the importance of maintaining and indeed scaling up investments in basic treatment and prevention services and social protection measures which treat the broader context in which HIV/AIDS infected populations live.
Ken Legins is currently the Senior Advisor, HIV Policy and Evidence, at UNICEF New York. Previously, Ken worked in Beijing as the UNICEF Chief of HIV/AIDS from 2004 to late 2008, working on such initiatives as the launch of the Chinese Campaign for Children and AIDS and a draft policy for the first child welfare system in China. Previous to China, Ken held positions in the UNICEF New York and the World Health Organization’s Regional Office in Europe, at which time he was stationed in Tirana, Albania during the Kosovo War. In the early 90’s Ken worked at the New York City Department of Public Health as a tuberculosis public health epidemiologist and as an HIV counselor at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. Ken received his undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College in ‘92, and Masters in Public Health from Yale University in ‘95. He received the Common Good Award from Bowdoin in 2006. Ken has served on the board of the Global Business Coalition on AIDS, TB and Malaria in China, and New York City WNYC Radio Community Board from 2002-2004. Ken currently lives in New York City.