Is every child counted?

Data tell us that the lives of children today are much better than they were in the past. The data speak and we listen. But we lack data on the lives of many children around the world and these children often go unheard. They can’t access social and protection systems and aren’t taken account in policy decisions. A missing birth registration may mean that a child can never attend school. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for a more equitable future, and at their core is a commitment to leave no one behind. But the SDGs can only deliver on the promise of equity for every boy and girl if the world knows which children and families are thriving and which are being left behind – if every child is counted.

A new UNICEF report – Is every child counted? – considers both the implications of the 2030 Agenda for children and the data required to monitor the situation of children within the SDG framework. While there is no goal that exclusively addresses the needs of children, most SDG goals and targets are either directly or indirectly related to children.

The 17 Global Goals of the 2030 Agenda address the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. Attached to the goals are 169 targets, which lay out the specific aims towards which the global community is working. In total, 95 of the targets are either directly (48) or indirectly (47) connected to children. Of those relevant to children, over half lack sufficient data.

Improving the coverage and quality of child-related data is essential to harnessing the power of the 2030 Agenda for children. The potential of SDG monitoring to drive change for children will depend on countries fulfilling their commitment that “SDG indicators should be disaggregated, where relevant, by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability and geographic location, or other characteristics.” Meaningful commitments to high-quality, timely and disaggregated data will allow governments and their partners to track progress on children and implement course corrections as needed so that no child is left behind.


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