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Global governments’ failure to support family policies

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New report calls for measures to enable the world’s children to thrive, not merely survive
Published: 13 Feb 2013

A new report, launched today by the World Policy Analysis Centre, contains never-before-available comparative data on laws and public policies in 191 countries covering poverty, discrimination, education, health, child labour, child marriage and parental care. Changing Children’s Chances reveals how millions of children across the world face conditions that limit their opportunities to thrive and reach their full potential.

Coauthored by Dr. Jody Heymann, a paediatrician and Dean of the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California at Los Angeles, the report looks at both progress and lack of progress – and includes unique full colour world maps and tables offering insights into global policies on a range of topics, including which countries allow children to work in hazardous conditions; how long are girls protected from marrying compared to boys;  which countries charge fees for all or some secondary education; which countries support paid leave for new mothers and fathers; at what level countries set a minimum wage, if any; and which countries offer inclusive education to children with disabilities.

“Progress over the past few decades demonstrates that where there is a will, there is a way to make dramatic changes in children’s lives, from survival to basic education,” said Heymann, formerly Founding Director of the Institute for Health and Social Policy (IHSP) at McGill University. The innovative data centre informing the report was largely built through McGill’s IHSP.

Governments, in both developed and developing countries, are not taking widely agreed-upon steps in critical areas known to make a difference to children’s opportunities. This new research aims to focus global attention on these issues to ensure that existing policies governing child welfare are fully implemented and new measures introduced which will enable children’s full and healthy development.

With an international team and nearly a decade of work carried out at Harvard, McGill, and UCLA, the World Policy Analysis Centre has brought together for the first time quantitatively comparable findings on laws and policies in all 193 UN countries.

The Changing Children’s Chances report presents these ground-breaking findings for children. Findings related to children’s chances is available at www.childrenschances.org

Available for interviews in French and English: report co-author, Kristen McNeill, Institute for Health and Social Policy, McGill University, please contact cynthia [dot] lee [at] mcgill [dot] ca

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