10 windows of opportunity for children
These 10 interventions across a child’s life that help level the playing field.
This piece was contributed by Bayann Hamid in support of UNICEF and the #FightUnfair campaign.
Even before she is born, poverty and discrimination thwart a child’s chances of getting a fair shot at life. Children born into poverty are nearly two times as likely to die before age 5 than their wealthier peers; girls are less likely to learn to read than boys; and children with disabilities are ostracized instead of included.
Addressing the inequities that lead to these harsh realities may seem daunting – because change on a large scale requires greater financing, infrastructure development and policy reform. But there are also low-cost, tried and true interventions that can make a lasting difference in the lives of individual children.
Below are examples of ten interventions across a child’s life that help level the playing field so that every child can have a fair chance to reach her potential.
1. Newborn health doesn’t just begin at birth. Eight months pregnant, Animatou takes advantage of Niger's free antenatal health care, which has helped to stem high maternal and infant mortality rates.
2. Where access to a hospital is limited, skilled birth attendants ensure a safe delivery. In Pakistan, Shagufta Shahzadi, a community midwife, never treats a patient without putting gloves on first. She recalls a time when untrained birth attendants administered deliveries in unhygienic conditions.
3. Low birthweight babies are especially susceptible to hypothermia. In Tanzania, a new mother demonstrates how carrying her baby against her chest allows her to pass on body heat.
4. Malnutrition – often referred to as ‘hidden hunger’ – develops gradually, its devastating impact unseen until irreversible damage has been done. In Mali, Makoura Sandugu brings her young daughter back from the brink of death through a combination of breastfeeding and micronutrient supplements.
5. Early learning opportunities help disadvantaged children enter school better prepared. In Malawi, Leviticus, the 5 year old son of a single mother, benefits from a volunteer-run preschool.
6. In the Phillippines, a government run cash assistance program enables Marcelina Morada to send her son Ashley to school instead of work.
7. Providing schooling to children in remote communities can be challenging, especially in poor countries where resources are limited. In Sudan, low-cost tablets help hard-to-reach children catch up at school.
8. In Jamaica, 22-year old Rushell counsels victims of sexual abuse. A rape survivor herself, Rushell wants to show other girls and young women that there is life after trauma.
9. In Georgia, a rehabilitation program for children in conflict with the law offers youth a second chance. Through the program, 15-year old Tornike, who once faced 4 to 7 years in prison for petty theft, is learning filmmaking so he can prepare for his future.
10. In Tajikistan, a special preschool prepares children with disabilities to integrate into the regular school system. There, 3-year old Aziza, an autistic child, learns to communicate with the outside world.
You can help create a world where all children have access to quality education and health care by going to TAKE ACTION NOW. Tweet now to #FightUnfair for children who deserve better and learn more at www.unicef.org/fightunfair.