FAIRFIELD (CONNECTICUT), MAY 28 – At least 280 million children around the world, or 1 in 8, are significantly better off today than 20 years ago, a new report by Save the Children has found. The 100-year-old humanitarian organization’s Global Childhood Report ranks the best and worst countries for children by examining factors that rob children of their childhoods around the world such as child labor, teen pregnancy, exclusion from education, and children fleeing conflict zones. Italy is among the top ten.
In the United States, which ranks 36th, the rate of teens giving birth has dropped by more than half since 2000, and school dropout rates have fallen by nearly two-thirds. Tied with China, the U.S. has also cut chronic malnutrition and child marriage by a third, and the rate of children dying before their fifth birthdays by a fifth.
The report finds that since 2000, circumstances for children have improved in 173 out of 176 countries. Globally, there has been progress on every End of Childhood Index indicator but one – children suffering due to conflict. There has been an 80 percent rise in the number of people forced to flee their homes due to conflict – 30.5 million more people since 2000. Ongoing wars in Syria and Yemen have significantly contributed to this surge, as well as protracted conflicts in places including Iraq and South Sudan.
Singapore tops the rankings as the country that best protects and provides for its children, with eight Western European countries and South Korea also ranking in the top 10 (Italy ranks at the eighth position). The most dramatic progress is among some of the world’s poorest countries, with Sierra Leone making the biggest improvements since 2000, followed by Rwanda, Ethiopia and Niger. The Central African Republic is the country where childhood is most threatened, followed by Niger and Chad. Specifically:
- Sierra Leone achieved a 99 percent reduction in the number of people forcibly displaced from home, with 1 in every 5 people displaced in 2000, compared to 1 in 700 today.
- Rwanda has improved on most indicators, 25 years after the Rwandan genocide. Under-5 mortality is down 79 percent, and the out-of-school rate and child marriage rate are both down by 60 percent. Rwanda has also cut child labor, adolescent births and child homicides in half since 2000.
- Ethiopia achieved a 59 percent reduction in under-5 mortality, 41 percent decrease in teen births, 33 percent decrease in stunting, 30 percent decrease in child homicide, and a halving of the number of children out of school and child marriage.
- Niger improved most out of any country on the list, in relative terms, with its score more than doubling over two decades and with the rate of children dying before their fifth birthday plummeting by 62 percent.
For those countries that made the most progress, including Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Niger, the results showed that political choices can matter more than national wealth.
Read the Global Childhood Report here. (@OnuItalia)