The State of the World's Children 2010 - Celebrating 20 Years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

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Advances in child protection and participation, although often less measurable due to gaps in data, have been no less significant. In the past two decades, around 70 countries have incorporated children’s codes into national legislation based on the Convention’s provisions. Expanded international household surveys have, since the mid-1990s, begun to provide regular estimates of several important protection issues, such as child marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting, and, more recently, attitudes towards domestic violence and child discipline. Paradigms such as the protective environment are providing a firm basis for national child-protection systems. Awareness of and advocacy on child protection issues have increased markedly. On two key issues - children in armed conflict and violence against children - the naming of UN special representatives have underscored that increased attention and determined effort. As it enters its 21st year as a UN treaty, the Convention on the Rights of the Child faces the challenge of consolidating the undoubted gains in child rights of the past, while addressing the risks and grasping the opportunities of the present and future. The recent global economic downturn exposes many to greater hunger, undernutrition, lack of opportunity and hardship. Children and young people are most at risk from this poverty penalty, with almost 45 per cent of the world’s population currently under the age of 25. Empowering women and eliminating gender discrimination produces a double dividend - fulfilling the rights of women and also helping to save and improve the lives of children. Evidence shows that when women are educated and empowered to participate in decision-making in the household, workplace and political sphere - secure from violence, exploitation and discrimination - children and families benefit. Both boys and girls are more likely to have access to adequate nutrition, quality health care and education; girls are also more likely to delay marriage and enjoy greater opportunities for development and growth. Educating girls and ensuring their protection and participation is therefore of pivotal importance to the child rights agenda.

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