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06 February 2019, 18:24

ILO, UNICEF: Only one third of children covered by social protection

MINSK, 6 February (BelTA) - A new report by UNICEF and the ILO highlights the critical need to extend social protection to all children, BelTA learned from the ILO Bureau for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

“Globally only 35% of children on average are covered by social protection which reaches 87% in Europe and Central Asia, 66% in the Americas, 28% in Asia and 16% in Africa. At the same time, one in five children lives in extreme poverty (less than $1.90 a day), and almost half of the world's children live in ‘moderate' poverty (under $3.10 a day). Almost everywhere, poverty disproportionately affects children, as they are twice as likely as adults to live in extreme poverty,” specialists of the report said.

According to Isabel Ortiz, Director of Social Protection at ILO, child poverty can be reduced overnight with adequate social protection. The ILO calls for the rapid expansion of child and family benefits, with the aim of achieving universal social protection for children, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Such benefits are a key element of policies to improve access to nutrition, health and education, as well as reducing child labor and child poverty and vulnerability.

Universal social protection for children is not a privilege of wealthy countries, the report says. A number of developing countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mongolia and South Africahave, have achieved (or nearly achieved) universal coverage.

Belarus' Labor and Social Protection Minister Irina Kostevich repeatedly stressed that there are 11 types of benefits for families with children in Belarus. Belarus is one of the few that offers paid maternity leave until a child reaches the age of three. Maternity leave is available not only for mothers. About 2% of Belarus' GDP is spent on child benefits. The country continues improving measures of state support for families with children.

The issue is discussed at the International Conference on Child Grants, convened by UNICEF , the ILO and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). The conference takes place at the ILO headquarters in Geneva on 6-8 February 2019.

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