Poverty Unpacked, a podcast and blog series produced by Keetie Roelen, Research Fellow and Co-Director of the Centre for Social Protection, recently released an important podcast: “Tackling child poverty: both urgency and opportunity”.
Roelen was joined by David Stewart, Chief of Child Poverty and Social Protection at UNICEF Headquarters in New York; Yolande Wright, Global Director for Poverty Reduction, Climate Resilience, Gender Equality and Inclusion at Save the Children International and Joan Nyanyuki, Executive Director of the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF).
The participants explored why poverty is particularly damaging to children. Stewart explained that children are at a vulnerable life stage and if a child dips into poverty it can have a lifelong impact. Nyanyuki concurred with this, and expanded that if a child dips into poverty this ultimately handicaps their ability, and their access to education, which then diminishes their capacity to earn a good income as an adult. All speakers agreed that COVID-19 has exacerbated already existing inequalities, with Stewart warning that, since the pandemic started, an additional 150 million children have fallen into income poverty. Wright expanded that a lack of digital access is a key concern for children living in poverty during the pandemic in terms of their access to education. Wright and Nyanyuki also highlighted that this increase in poverty had led to a growth in child marriage, which ultimately transforms a girl’s life, and extracts her from education.
Whilst all the speakers agreed that there’s no silver bullet for tackling child poverty, Wright and Stewart suggested that research has found that universal child benefits have proven to make a huge difference in improving health, education and food security in children’s lives. Stewart went on to say that by increasing income security – linked with access to social services, education and health care – universal child benefits and cash transfers could make a profound difference in tackling child poverty.
Listen to the podcast here.