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Street Children With Disabilities: Poor Health and Violence

young boy looking scared, hiding between some wooden planks.

Impacts Of Living with Disability As A Street Child: Poor Health & Violence

Living on the street

Some street children are forced to live and fend for themselves with no adults to care for them. This can be due to illness, exclusion or humanitarian crisis (1). For example, the HIV pandemic and ongoing war in many countries has left many children orphaned (1). This has forced more on to the streets (1). Others still have families to return home to at night but work on the street to contribute to their family’s income (2). Regardless, street children are more likely to be affected by disability due to poor health and violence (1). Disability also makes children more vulnerable to illness and violence. Many children with pre-existing disabilities often end up on the street due to discrimination and rejection from their communities (3).

Poor health in street children

Children living with disability are at greater risk of illness, which can be partly due to difficulties in accessing health services (4). For example, children with disabilities commonly receive fewer essential vaccinations and basic healthcare (5). Similarly, the poor health and illness suffered by street children is often as a result of poverty and limited access to healthcare (7). This suggests that also living with disability exacerbates the poor health experienced by street children. Almost all street children experience health problems, relating to growth, violence and infectious diseases along with mental illness and substance abuse (8). In addition, a study carried out in Alexandria in Egypt found that 83% of street children were malnourished (9). This is not surprising, but it highlights how the health of almost all street children can be affected by poverty.

Street children also suffer from disproportionately high levels of HIV / AIDs, overlapping with other groups affected by HIV, including intravenous drug users (10;11). As a result, there have been specific targets of HIV/AIDs interventions towards street children. While these have been effective, further progress will better protect street children and those with disability from illness. Railway Children is an organisation which works at three levels to better support all street children (12). They work at street level and community level to work with people directly and also at government level to influence policy for better protection of street children (12).

Abuse and violence in street children

Both street children and children with disabilities are more susceptible to violence (5). Studies carried out in Cairo and Alexandria in Egypt found that as much as 93% of street children had experienced harassment and abuse (11). Most of this abuse was by police and other street children (11). In addition, research shows that children with disabilities are as much as three times more at risk of violence than non-disabled children (5). Exclusion and sometimes a lack of care can leave them more vulnerable to harm, where they viewed as ‘easier targets’ (5).

Improving the health of street children with disabilities

It has been suggested that the creation of safe shelters could help improve poor health (8). These would be very helpful in providing safe spaces for street children and those with disability, which would limit their risk of harm (8).  However, beyond support by charities and other non-governmental organisations, there is a need to introduce new policies which better protect street children (8).

Chance for Childhood works with KUAP to support street children and street children with disabilities, in Kisumu, Kenya (13). Unfortunately, COVID-19 forced them to pause much of their work. In response, remote counselling had been arranged for some of the children (13). However, KUAP has also continued to supply food packages to 60 local families with children struggling with dysphagia. This programme has been essential in helping to improve the health of street children and those with disabilities. KUAP also tries to reunite street children with their families. (13).

There are some positive steps in place to improve the poor health of street children with disabilities. However, more help is urgently needed, which is why here at Poverty Child we are dedicated to supporting street-connected children. We would be grateful for any donations. If you wish please donate to Poverty Child.


References

1.     Child S. The Facts about Street Children | Consortium for Street Children [Internet]. Consortium for Street Children. 2021 [cited 24 August 2021]. Available from: https://www.streetchildren.org/about-street-children/

2.     On International Day of Persons with Disabilities we Advocate for Inclusive Education — Street Child [Internet]. Street Child. 2019 [cited 24 August 2021]. Available from: https://www.street-child.co.uk/blog/2019/12/4/on-international-day-of-persons-with-disabilities-we-advocate-inclusive-education

3.     Our work / Toybox [Internet]. Toybox.org.uk. [cited 24 August 2021]. Available from: https://toybox.org.uk/our-work

4.     Kuper H, Monteath-van Dok A, Wing K, Danquah L, Evans J, Zuurmond M et al. The Impact of Disability on the Lives of Children; Cross-Sectional Data Including 8,900 Children with Disabilities and 898,834 Children without Disabilities across 30 Countries. PLoS ONE [Internet]. 2014 [cited 24 August 2021];9(9):e107300. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4159292/

5.     World Health Organization & United Nations Children’s Fund (‎UNICEF)‎. (‎2012)‎. Early childhood development and disability: a discussion paper. World Health Organization. https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/75355

6.     Panter‐brick C. Homelessness, poverty, and risks to health: beyond at risk categorizations of street children1. Children’s Geographies [Internet]. 2004 [cited 25 August 2021];2(1):83-94. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1473328032000168787?casa_token=IrddfS6UXfoAAAAA%3AR_P9f01XM_z57spnmwwr9dOShWSZ33cpaFX98fy6UXBNkmOpVXvdkhqupQhPAM-m_PAhOhpH84VVlA

7.     Cumber S, Tsoka-Gwegweni J. The health profile of street children in Africa: a literature review. Journal of Public Health in Africa [Internet]. 2015 [cited 25 August 2021];. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5349275/

8.     Cumber S, Tsoka-Gwegweni J. The health profile of street children in Africa: a literature review. Journal of Public Health in Africa [Internet]. 2015 [cited 25 August 2021];. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5349275/

9.     Salem E, el-latif F. Sociodemographic characteristics of street children in Alexandria. East Mediterranean Health Journal [Internet]. 2002 [cited 25 August 2021];8(1):64-73. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15330562/

10.  Marshall B, Kerr T, Shoveller J, Montaner J, Wood E. Structural factors associated with an increased risk of HIV and sexually transmitted infection transmission among street-involved youth. BMC Public Health [Internet]. 2009 [cited 25 August 2021];9(1). Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19134203/

11.  Nada K, Suliman E. Violence, abuse, alcohol and drug use, and sexual behaviors in street children of Greater Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt. AIDS [Internet]. 2010 [cited 25 August 2021];24(Suppl 2):S39-S44. Available from: https://journals.lww.com/aidsonline/Fulltext/2010/07002/Violence,_abuse,_alcohol_and_drug_use,_and_sexual.5.aspx

12.  Fighting for Street Children [Internet]. Railwaychildren.org.uk. [cited 25 August 2021]. Available from: https://www.railwaychildren.org.uk/

13.   How we’re supporting vulnerable children during Coronavirus | Chance for Childhood – Children’s charity [Internet]. Chance for Childhood. 2020 [cited 25 August 2021]. Available from: https://chanceforchildhood.org/latest-news/how-were-supporting-vulnerable-children-during-coronavirus/

 

Girls’ education

Girls in school uniform

Every child should be afforded the opportunity to attend school and learn the fundamental skills required in life. Education allows children to grow and develop important knowledge in order to strive and succeed in their future lives. Whether a child should have access to this should not be based on his or her gender. Nevertheless, for children living in poverty, it is mostly girls who are deprived of this which leads to gender inequality. According to UNICEF, around the world, 129 million girls are not in school. This includes 32 million girls of primary school age, 30 million girls of lower-secondary school age and 67 million girls of upper-secondary school age.[1] Statistics show that only 49% of countries have an equal number of boys and girls in primary education and this percentage lowers at secondary school level with only 42% of countries having an equal number of boys and girls in lower-secondary education and 24% in upper-secondary education.

In this article, we will firstly look at the reasons as to why girls are prevented from accessing education in many countries worldwide. We will then consider why it is crucial that girls can access education. Lastly, we will explore some of the projects and initiatives set up by charities which aim to help girls access education.

Barriers preventing girls’ education

Girl reading textbook at school

Poverty

Poverty is one of the main drivers behind girls’ lack of education in many countries around the world. According to the World Bank Group, girls who belong to a family with little income, live in remote locations, have a disability or who are part of a minority ethno-linguistic group are the most behind in terms of accessing and completing education.[2] Families with little income often do not have the money to pay for schools and costs related to schooling such as textbooks, uniforms, transportation and supplies.[3] Therefore, if there are multiple children in a family, boys are usually favoured when it comes to education and girls are asked to help around the house and look after siblings or family members.[4]

Child marriage

Sadly, poverty also results in child marriage which is another reason as to why girls lack education. As stated by Dolores Dixon, Executive Director for Camfed in Canada, “parents who can afford it would not necessarily hold back their children from going to school but if you can’t afford it you will then have to make a choice…they feel [marriage] is the best option within the limited options”.[5] Girls who marry at a young age are less likely to attend school and are more likely to complete less years of education and have children at a young age. The World Bank Group has reported that girls who have been in secondary education are up to six times less likely to marry as girls who have not been educated.[6]

Violence

Girls are often subjected to violence on their way to school and also within schools which prevents them from attending school and dropping out. ActionAid has reported that in the Upper West region of Ghana, girls have to walk long distances to school. More than 50 girls a year are abducted and subjected to sexual violence or sexual exploitation on their way to school.[7] Girls are mostly in danger during the rainy season where attackers hide in the long grass waiting for girls on their way to school.[8]

Girls also face gender-based violence within schools which significantly impacts their physical and mental health and consequently leads to them dropping out of schools. Studies have shown that many schools lack facilities which make them safe such as perimeter fences and well-lit pathways.[9] Nora Fyles, Head of Secretariat for UN Girls’ Education Initiative has stated that “[girls] don’t think about learning when they’re trying to figure out what the next exit is or whether they can go to the toilet and be safe”.[10]

Gender biases in schools

Many practices and facilities within schools are discriminatory towards girls which also results in girls not being able to attend school or dropping out. A lot of schools do not have water, sanitation or hygiene facilities which accommodate girls, for example separate toilets for boys and girls.[11] Marni Sommer, Associate Professor in Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University, has noted that “[t]here is shame, there’s embarrassment…I’ve been in countries where girls thought if they told anybody [they were menstruating] they’d die”.[12]

Furthermore, in a lot of countries, teaching methods, practices and syllabuses are not gender-neutral which results in gender biases and stereotypes against girls and women.[13] A lot of the time, teachers have not been told how to respond to gender-based violence in schools and do not know how to help girls with issues they have. This leads to girls not feeling comfortable, safe or secure within schools.

Reasons as to why education is important

Breaks poverty cycle

There are several reasons as to why it is as important for girls to access and complete education. Firstly, if girls are educated, they are more likely to attain better paid jobs and earn more money which helps to break the poverty cycle. This in turn creates additional opportunities for girls and women and can contribute to economic growth. According to the Malala Fund, more women in work can add up to $12 trillion to the global economy.[14]

Furthermore, educating girls provides them with core skills which allows them to take up more complex leadership roles such as in politics. This helps them to create effective change, participate in decisions affecting their families and communities, and advocate for future policies.[15] It also reduces the gender gap within jobs and allows everyone to be entitled to the same opportunities.[16]

Reduces child marriage and improves the health of girls

Allowing girls to access education also means that they are less likely to marry at a young age and drop out of school. ActionAid has reported that in 18 out of 20 countries with the highest rates of child marriage, girls who are not in schools are up to six times more likely to marry young than girls who have been educated at secondary level.[17] Educating girls means that they have more control over their lives and will be less likely to suffer from domestic violence.[18]

Additionally, girls who stay in schools are less likely to become pregnant or give birth at a young age which decreases infant and maternal mortality rates.[19] Research has shown that in sub-Saharan Africa, the birth rate among girls who have been educated at secondary level is four times less than girls who have not been educated.[20] Furthermore, well-educated girls are less at risk of contracting HIV and are more likely to utilise methods to prevent diseases such as malaria, for example, by using bed nets.[21]

Helps to prepare for natural disasters

Studies have shown that educating girls is also useful for climate change and preparing for natural disasters. Brookings Institution has reported that girls who are secondary level educated are the most cost-effective and most effective investment against climate change.[22] They have knowledge about how to cope when there is a natural disaster or when there is severe weather due to climate change and as a result, less deaths or injuries occur within families and communities.[23]

Ways to help girls access education

Happy children at school

One of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is to ‘[e]nsure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ by 2030.[24] However, there is a lot to be done in order to reduce gender inequality in schools and allow more girls to access education around the world. Many charities have set up projects and initiatives and some of these are outlined below.

Helping girls get to school safely

As mentioned previously in the article, girls are often at risk of being abducted and are subjected to sexual violence or sexual exploitation whilst making their way to school. Therefore, it is crucial that there are plans to help girls get to school safely. ActionAid have implemented an initiative where they provide bikes to girls which shortens the long and dangerous route to school and means that girls do not have to leave very early in the morning when it is still dark outside.[25]

Eliminating gender inequality in schools

It is also important to remove gender inequality and stereotypes within schools. UNICEF is carrying out work whereby they aim to help governments implement gender-responsive budgets and impose national education policies and plans which promote gender equality. UNICEF is also developing secondary education initiatives which aim to remove discriminatory practices and look at menstrual hygiene practices in schools.[26]

Sponsoring a child

Through many charities such as ActionAid or World Vision Canada you can sponsor a child which helps to tackle poverty and ensures everyone obtains an education.[27] Sponsoring a child can help provide basic necessities to families in poverty. It can also help to pay for school fees, equipment and materials associated with schooling such as textbooks. Additionally, it can help to pay for a school building in the place where the child lives. ActionAid has successful changed girls’ lives in Zanzibar. It has been reported that through sponsorship, a school, nursery and hospital were built and children now have somewhere they can go.[28]

Conclusion

Overall, it is clear that both boys and girls should have the right to education and equal opportunities in life, however, in many countries, girls are prevented from being educated which leads to gender inequality. Barriers include poverty, child marriage, violence and gender biases in schools. Educating girls helps to break the poverty cycle, reduces the number of child marriages and improves the health of girls, and it helps families and communities prepare for natural disasters and climate change. Several charities around the world have implemented initiatives and projects which aim to improve girls’ education. Nevertheless, more work needs to be done in local communities in order for the gender gap in education to be eliminated altogether.

[1]UNICEF, ‘Girls’ education’ <https://www.unicef.org/education/girls-education> accessed 30 September 2021

[2]World Bank Group, ‘Girls’ Education’ <https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/girlseducation#1> accessed 30 September 2021

[3]ibid

[4]ibid

[5]Laura Paddison, ‘Educating girls: the key to tackling global poverty’ The Guardian (04 October 2017)

[6]World Bank Group ‘Girls’ Education’ (n 2)

[7]ActionAid, ‘Girls’ Education’< https://www.actionaid.org.uk/our-work/womens-rights/girls-education> accessed 30 September 2021

[8]ibid

[9]World Bank Group ‘Girls’ Education’ (n 2)

[10]Laura Paddison, ‘Educating girls: the key to tackling global poverty’ (n 5)

[11]World Bank Group ‘Girls’ Education’ (n 2)

[12]Laura Paddison, ‘Educating girls: the key to tackling global poverty’ (n 5)

[13]UNICEF, ‘Girls’ education’ (n 1)

[14]Malala Fund, ‘Girls’ education’ <https://malala.org/girls-education?sc=header> accessed 30 September 2021

[15]ActionAid, ‘Girls’ Education’ (n 7)

[16]UNICEF, ‘Girls’ education’ (n 1)

[17]ActionAid, ‘Girls’ Education’ (n 7)

[18]Theirworld, ‘Girls’ education’ <https://theirworld.org/explainers/girls-education> accessed 30 September 2021

[19]ActionAid, ‘Girls’ Education’ (n 7)

[20]Theirworld, ‘Girls’ education’ (n 18)

[21]ibid

[22]Malala Fund, ‘Girls’ education’ (n 14)

[23]Theirworld, ‘Girls’ education’ (n 18)

[24]United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Sustainable Development <https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal4> accessed 30 September 2021

[25]ActionAid, ‘Girls’ Education’ (n 7)

[26]Leah Rodriguez, ‘7 Obstacles to Girls’ Education and How to Overcome Them’ Global Citizen (24 September 2019)

[27]ActionAid, ‘Girls’ Education’ (n 7) and World Vision Canada, ‘Girls’ education: facts and how to help’ <https://www.worldvision.ca/stories/education/girls-education-facts-and-how-to-help> accessed 30 September 2021

[28]ActionAid, ‘Girls’ Education’ (n 7)

Street Children With Disabilities: Education

Picture of a classroom in a developing country, filled with students

Impacts of living with disability as a street child

School as a street child

Street children are rarely enrolled in formal education. They are often excluded from normal classrooms, which can make learning more difficult.  Instead, those who are in education tend to use local programmes with teaching that is better tailored to the needs of street children (1). This includes time for children to work to support themselves or their families (1). These programmes have been vital in supporting street children as education is often essential for them to survive extreme poverty (2).

Regardless of the school system, it is common for street children to face many difficulties with education due to poverty, discrimination and difficulty getting to school. Like street children, it is also common for children living with disability to experience discrimination, bullying and isolation while at school (1;3). Due to the discrimination already experienced by street children in education, it is easy to imagine how street children also impacted by disability can find education even more challenging, whether in formal education or in street-connected programmes. Therefore, street children living with disability often experience even more hardship at school (4).

Lack of resources for street children with disabilities

Particularly in low-income areas, school budgets cannot afford for funds to be directed towards the needs of special needs children (3). For example, classrooms are often too noisy for children with hearing difficulties to learn and those with visual and physical disabilities cannot be given the support they need for them to manage their impairments at school (2). Therefore, programmes aiming to improve the inclusion of street children in education, whether that be formal or those tailored for street children, are very important. Education is suggested to be the single most effective way for a street child to thrive (2). Furthermore, if on their own, being out of school can force a street child to fend for themselves all day and all night.

What can be done to help

  1. Mobile schools and financial help

Some projects aim to provide a school format for street children which allows time for work, due to many also needing to work on the streets to support themselves and potentially their families (1). For example, the Mobile School NPO created by the CSC Network helps to support street children by delivering teaching in remote areas. This allows them to learn in an open and accessible environment.

Another benefit of programmes like the Mobile School is that they are scalable. In addition, Street Child’s ‘Family Business for Education’ model has made progress in tackling the social and financial barriers experienced by street children and children with disabilities (5). Through this programme, families receive training in developing and saving a stable income, which helps them send their children to school. ‘Family Business for Education’ has been extremely successful by helping more than 50,000 children attend school. Education is vital in helping street children move out of poverty, allowing them to live healthier adult lives (1).

  1. Promoting inclusion of street children with disabilities

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are continuing to develop interventions which are inclusive of street children. Street Child is keen to make education more accessible and inclusive for those living with disability (5). They are continuing to train teachers to promote an inclusive environment which is supportive of their students (5)

Similarly, Chance for Childhood has worked with partners via Comic Relief in Western Kenya, to improve the quality and accessibility of education for street children with additional needs (6). This project is called ‘LEAP’ and one of its main objectives is to promote the inclusion of street children with disabilities. ‘LEAP’ workers believe that children living with disability should be included in formal school, rather than enrolled into separate education (6). They feel that this inclusion is essential to tackle the negative attitudes towards street children and disability. It can be challenging to bring these children back into mainstream education as they can have specific needs. However, with particular support it is possible (6).

  1. Specialist education programmes

The view of ‘LEAP’ is important. However, not all projects aim to re-introduce street children to mainstream education. It is sometimes necessary for street children to have access to an alternative school format as some feel that formal education is not a priority (1;7). Therefore, it is important to communicate with children about their needs. Tailored programmes may suit some street children better. However, further projects which focus on the needs of street children with disabilities as an individual group are needed within schools. If we continue to tackle the stigma surrounding these children, we can hope to improve their education, whether in tailored education or formal school (1;7).

 


References

  1. Clark J. Realising street children’s right to education | CSC [Internet]. Consortium for Street Children. 2019 [cited 25 August 2021]. Available from: https://www.streetchildren.org/news-and-updates/realising-street-childrens-right-to-education/#_edn1
  2. On International Day of Persons with Disabilities we Advocate for Inclusive Education — Street Child [Internet]. Street Child. 2019 [cited 24 August 2021]. Available from: https://www.street-child.co.uk/blog/2019/12/4/on-international-day-of-persons-with-disabilities-we-advocate-inclusive-education
  3. Mizunoya S, Mitra S, Yamasaki I. Towards Inclusive Education The impact of disability on school attendance in developing countries, Innocenti Working Paper 2016-03 [Internet]. UNICEF, office of research; 2016. Available from: https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/IWP3%20-%20Towards%20Inclusive%20Education.pdf
  1. Weimert F. Discrimination is the biggest obstacle to education for children with disabilities — Street Child Switzerland [Internet]. Street Child Switzerland. 2018 [cited 5 May 2021]. Available from: https://www.street-child.ch/news/discrimination-education-children-with-disabilities
  2. Nepal — Street Child [Internet]. Street Child. 2021 [cited 25 August 2021]. Available from: https://www.street-child.co.uk/nepal
  3. LEAP from the Street – Learning, Educating And Protecting: Our new education project for street children in Kisumu, Kenya. | Chance for Childhood – Children’s charity [Internet]. Chance for Childhood. 2016 [cited 25 August 2021]. Available from: https://chanceforchildhood.org/latest-news/leap-street-learning-educating-protecting-new-education-project-street-children-kisumu-kenya/
  4. Turgut N. The protection and promotion of human rights for street connected children: legal, policy and practical strategies for change [Internet]. Consortium for Street Children; 2017. Available from: https://www.streetchildren.org/wp-content/uploads/gravity_forms/1-07fc61ac163e50acc82d83eee9ebb5c2/2017/04/CSC_Briefing-Paper_March-2017_FINAL-Hi-res_No-crops.pdf

Street Children With Disabilities: Discrimination

two young boys running in muddy clothes, smiling at the camera.

Impacts Of Living with Disability As A Street Child

Ableism – discrimination against disability

The negative treatment of people living with disabilities is known as ableism (1). Sadly, this is experienced by almost all people living with disability at some point in their lives. People living in financial difficulty or poverty experience greater levels of disability-related stigma (2). The level of discrimination can also depend on an individual’s type of impairment (2). For example, children with intellectual disabilities often experience greater levels of exclusion than those with physical disability (2).

Amar, a 17-year old boy from Yemen was interviewed for a study on disability and poverty (3). He is deaf and uses sign language to communicate. He explained that he is made to feel uncomfortable when he uses sign language on the street (3). People often stare at him. This is not uncommon and sadly many other children with disability share his experience (4). It is also common for parents of children with disability to be made to feel like outsiders within their own communities (5). There is evidence that this also contributes to their rejection from jobs (5). This can have a further negative effect on a child’s health, with some feeling like they will only be further mistreated if they try to seek help from healthcare professionals (3).

Education as a street child with disability

The discrimination and judgement experienced by children often adds to the difficulties street children have with school (6). For example, according to Street Child, almost half of the children interviewed felt that discrimination was their main barrier to attending school (7). As children also experience discrimination due to disability, street children with disability can have a very difficult time trying to fit in. They can experience discrimination due to both factors, where already belonging to another disadvantaged group can make a child feel even more marginalised (8).

Tackling discrimination against street children and disability

The discrimination faced by street children urgently needs addressed, as negative attitudes prevent many from seeking help. This prevents many from receiving care when they need it (3).

Although it may be that attending specialised education for street children would result in less isolation, some projects such as ‘LEAP’ feel that it is important to include them in mainstream education. They also work to strengthen the systems which protect street and disabled children (9). This project is run by Chance for Childhood through partners in Western Kenya. They aim to improve education for street children and those living with disability (9).

In addition, organisations including Street Girls Aid are working to improve education, nutrition and the safety of street-connected children (10). In partnership with Chance for Childhood, this has helped many children like Ebo, a boy called from Accra who at 18 months old could no longer walk due to malnutrition. Through support by Street Girls Aid, Ebo and his mother were given the support they needed to improve Ebo’s health, and with time Ebo could not only walk again but he also joins in with singing and dancing with other children in his community (10). This is just one example of the good work improving the health of street children.

Impacts of disability on health, education and discrimination in street children

Overall, it is very likely that living with disability as a street child exacerbates the difficulties experienced by street children. They often suffer from poverty and poorer health, worse education and greater discrimination than non-disabled children and those not living on the street (11; 12; 13). However, organisations have together made some excellent steps towards better inclusion and protection of disabled street children. We hope to have highlighted their significance, while there are also many other interventions doing great work. Overall, the articles in this series aim to raise the awareness of the various disabilities and difficulties experienced by disabled street children. This group is often overlooked and therefore need our continued support (14). If interested in the other articles in this series, or indeed any of our other blog updates.

 


References

  1. Definition of ABLEISM [Internet]. Merriam-webster.com. 2021 [cited 24 August 2021]. Available from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ableism
  2. UK Department for International Development and other Government departments. Disability stigma in developing countries. K4D helpdesk service, Institute of Development Studies; 2018.
  3. Eid A, Ingstad B. Disability and Poverty: A Global Challenge. Bristol; 2011.
  4. Kuper H, Monteath-van Dok A, Wing K, Danquah L, Evans J, Zuurmond M et al. The Impact of Disability on the Lives of Children; Cross-Sectional Data Including 8,900 Children with Disabilities and 898,834 Children without Disabilities across 30 Countries. PLoS ONE [Internet]. 2014 [cited 24 August 2021];9(9):e107300. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4159292/
  5. Rohwerder, B. (2018) Disability Stigma in Developing Countries. K4D Helpdesk Report. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.
  6. Weimert F. Discrimination is the biggest obstacle to education for children with disabilities — Street Child Switzerland [Internet]. Street Child Switzerland. 2018 [cited 5 May 2021]. Available from: https://www.street-child.ch/news/discrimination-education-children-with-disabilities
  7. Weimert F. Discrimination is the biggest obstacle to education for children with disabilities — Street Child Switzerland [Internet]. Street Child Switzerland. 2018 [cited 24 August 2021]. Available from: https://www.street-child.ch/news/discrimination-education-children-with-disabilities
  8. Children with disabilities [Internet]. Unicef.org. 2021 [cited 25 August 2021]. Available from: https://www.unicef.org/eca/children-disabilities
  9. LEAP from the Street – Learning, Educating And Protecting: Our new education project for street children in Kisumu, Kenya. | Chance for Childhood – Children’s charity [Internet]. Chance for Childhood. 2016 [cited 25 August 2021]. Available from: https://chanceforchildhood.org/latest-news/leap-street-learning-educating-protecting-new-education-project-street-children-kisumu-kenya/
  10. The streets are stealing children’s futures | Chance for Childhood – Children’s charity [Internet]. Chance for Childhood. [cited 25 August 2021]. Available from: https://chanceforchildhood.org/our-work/children-on-the-streets/
  11. Kuper H, Monteath-van Dok A, Wing K, Danquah L, Evans J, Zuurmond M et al. The Impact of Disability on the Lives of Children; Cross-Sectional Data Including 8,900 Children with Disabilities and 898,834 Children without Disabilities across 30 Countries. PLoS ONE [Internet]. 2014 [cited 24 August 2021];9(9):e107300. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4159292/
  12. Clark J. Realising street children’s right to education | CSC [Internet]. Consortium for Street Children. 2019 [cited 25 August 2021]. Available from: https://www.streetchildren.org/news-and-updates/realising-street-childrens-right-to-education/#_edn1
  13. Weimert F. Discrimination is the biggest obstacle to education for children with disabilities — Street Child Switzerland [Internet]. Street Child Switzerland. 2018 [cited 5 May 2021]. Available from: https://www.street-child.ch/news/discrimination-education-children-with-disabilities
  14. Our work / Toybox [Internet]. Toybox.org.uk. [cited 26 August 2021]. Available from: https://toybox.org.uk/our-work

 

Child Marriage

Female child poverty in India

Marriage is a formally recognised legal union between two people in a relationship. However, many girls around the world are subject to marriage against their will at a very young age. Child marriage occurs where at least one party to the marriage is under 18 years old. It is a type of forced marriage as one party does not freely consent to the marriage and may be coerced into marrying[1]. Child marriage is a practice which disproportionality affects girls more than boys with one in five girls being married before they reach the age of 18 compared to one in thirty boys[2]. It is often the result of gender inequality.

According to UNICEF, the number of child marriages has decreased globally from one in four girls marrying almost ten years ago to around one in five girls marrying today[3]. Nevertheless, the practice is still a global issue which is prevalent in many areas around the world. If it continues, by 2030, almost one billion girls will be subject to marriage at a young age[4].

In this article, we will firstly look at child marriage in the context of human rights and will consider where the practice remains predominate in the world. We will then explore the main drivers behind child marriage. Next, we will discuss the negative consequences of child marriage on girls today. Lastly, we will examine what may help to eradicate the practice globally.

Child marriage and human rights

Treaties and conventions

Child marriage is a practice which significantly violates a person’s human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which paved the way for subsequent human rights treaties, was adopted in 1948 and states in Article 16 that ‘[m]arriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.’ This was later reinforced in Article 1 of the Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages which came into force in 1964.

In 1979 the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was adopted and according to Article 16, men and women have the same right to marriage. They also have ‘the same right freely to choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent’. Article 16 goes on to state that ‘[t]he betrothal and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage….’ Thus, it is clear that pressurising girls to marry against their will at a young age breaches the rights set out in these international treaties and conventions.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is the main international treaty concerning children’s rights, does not specifically address child marriage. However, other rights contained within this Convention are linked to the practice. These include the right to freedom of expression (Article 13) and protection from violence and abuse (Article 19).

Resolutions and goals

Over a number of years, the United Nations has adopted many resolutions aimed at tackling the problem of child marriage. In 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution entitled ‘[s]trengthening efforts to prevent and eliminate child, early and forced marriage: challenges, achievements, best practices and implementation gaps’[5] and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs has set the goal of eliminating all ‘harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation’ as one its seventeen Sustainable Development Goals[6].

Where is the practice prevalent?

Despite being a human rights violation, the practice still takes place in no less than 117 countries around the world[7]. According to UNICEF, the highest rate of child marriage is in sub-Saharan Africa where 35% of girls are subject to marriage before the age of 18. South Asia follows this where 30% of girls are subject to marriage before the age of 18. Other countries where the practice remains prevalent include Latin America and Caribbean (24%); the Middle East and North Africa (17%) and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (12%)[8].

The reasons behind child marriage

Two girls in India subject to child marriage

Female child poverty

Poverty is one of the main causes of child marriage globally. Girls residing in poorer families are twice as likely to be subject to marriage before they reach the age of 18 than girls residing in better-off families[9]. Girls are often seen as placing an economic burden upon families and are regarded as expensive to educate, feed and clothe[10]. Therefore, families, and sometimes the girls themselves, regard marriage as a way of becoming financially secure and escaping poverty[11]. Due to the significant issue of gender inequality which is prevalent in many countries, girls often lack education and are dependent upon men economically. Accordingly, they may regard marriage as the only way to become financially better-off.

Dowries and ‘bride prices’

Additionally, often a girl’s family pay a dowry to the groom’s family. Normally, the younger the bride, the smaller the dowry. This is an incentive for families to subject their daughters to marriage at a young age[12]. Similarly, in situations where a groom’s family pays the bride’s family a ‘bride price’, families suffering from economic hardship may choose to marry their daughter at a young age in return for an economic profit[13]. Sadly, due to COVID-19, there has been many school closures and the pandemic has had a significant economic impact on many families and communities. Consequently, many more girls are at risk of the practice[14].

Social and cultural norms

The most significant driver of child marriage is poverty, however, the practice also occurs due to social and cultural rules. Child marriage is a ‘norm’ in many communities and if families do not coincide with the practice, their own communities may regard them as outsiders or exclude them[15]. Therefore, many parents marry their daughters young to gain social status. Furthermore, due to widespread patriarchal systems, women are often subservient to men. In certain countries, girls who have relationships outside marriage or fall pregnant before marriage bring disgrace and shame to their families. Therefore, parents may decide to marry their daughters at a young age to protect them and their family’s social position within communities[16].

Negative effects and consequences

Sick child in poverty

Social and mental health problems

The practice has many negative consequences on the lives of girls around the world socially, mentally and physically. Girls who marry at a young age no longer attend school and this therefore hinders their access to education[17]. Furthermore, the practice has a significant impact on the mental health of many girls. When girls marry at a young age, they have to move in with their husband’s family and the husband’s family home may be in a different town. Thus, girls may no longer be able to maintain social connections with people outside their new families. Additionally, due to the dowry paid, a girl’s husband may be older than her. Accordingly, she may not share the same interests as her husband. Once married, girls may also have children. Consequently, they lose their adolescence, freedom to play and make friends which can result in isolation and depression[18].

Physical health problems

Furthermore, girls face many physical health problems as a result of the practice. Many families believe that marrying their daughters at a young age protects them from sexually transmitted infections. However, this is not necessarily true. Research has shown that in Kenya, girls who are married are 50% more likely to have HIV than girls who are not married[19] and in Zambia, this is 59%[20]. Furthermore, girls who are subject to marriage at a young age are often not ready to have sexual intercourse or reproduce[21]. Statistics have shown that girls who are aged between 10 and 14 are five to seven times more likely to pass away during childbirth and girls aged between 15 and 19 are twice as likely to pass away during childbirth[22].

Additionally, young girls often face prolonged childbirth resulting in obstetric fistula.  Commentators have stated that girls who have suffered from obstetric fistula experience incontinence, shame and other health issues[23]. Alarmingly, between 50,000 and 100,000 women suffer from obstetric fistula every year and according to the World Health Organization, over 2 million girls in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are living with this condition and it is not being treated[24].

What will eradicate the practice?

Increasing education

In order to tackle the problem of child marriage, there needs to be a focus on education. Girls subject to child marriage should develop knowledge about the consequences of marrying young. They also need to learn about the affect the practice may have on their futures. If there is legislation tackling the practice, girls need to know that this legislation exists. They should additionally become aware of who to get in touch with should they need help[25]. The parents of young girls also need to be educated about the risks of child marriage and should become aware of the fact that forcing their daughters to marry at a young age could be breaking the law. Furthermore, local community leaders need to be provided with education about the impact of child marriage. As role models, this could help to shift local community patterns and beliefs[26].

Working with local communities

Additionally, there needs to be more ground work within the local communities. Local governments need to enforce campaigns fighting against the practice. There also needs to be local media coverage and local NGOs must directly work with communities[27]. NGOs should also offer psychological assistance to victims[28]. It has been found that the programmes which are most successful at preventing child marriages are those which have given families financial incentives to keep girls at school, those which feed children during school (removing the burden of parents having to do this), and those which give employment opportunities to girls once they have finished school[29].

ActionAid, an international charity, has carried out significant work to end child marriage.Local ActionAid staff worked alongside a co-operative women’s group in India and ActionAid’s partner organisation called Swaraj to raise awareness about the impact of the practice, the importance of girls remaining in school, and girls’ rights to choose who and when they marry. In the community, young women used to marry at 15 or 16 years old. However, after raising awareness about the negative consequences of child marriage, the average age has increased. Now most women in the community do not marry until they are 22 years old[30].

Conclusion

Overall, it is clear that child marriage is still a widespread practice and it is a serious violation of a person’s human rights. Poverty primarily drives child marriage in many regions, however, it is also a deeply-rooted practice which occurs as a result of cultural and social norms. The practice negatively affects girls’ mental and physical health and wellbeing, their social life and their education. There needs to be more education along with cooperation with local governments, NGOs and the media to help raise awareness about the negative impact of child marriage on girls and eliminate the practice all together.

Footnotes

[1]United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, ‘Child and forced marriage, including in humanitarian settings’ https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/WRGS/Pages/ChildMarriage.aspx> accessed 13 May 2021

[2]UNICEF, ‘115 million boys and men around the world married as children – UNICEF’, <https://www.unicef.org.uk/press-releases/115-million-boys-and-men-around-the-world-married-as-children-unicef/> accessed 21 May 2021

[3]UNICEF, ‘Child marriage’ <https://www.unicef.org/protection/child-marriage> accessed 13 May 2021

[4]Women Alliance, ‘Child marriage – a practice driven by poverty’ (December 2016) <https://www.womenalliance.org/child-marriage-a-practice-driven-by-poverty> accessed 13 May 2021

[5]United Nations Human Rights Council, ‘Resolution Adopted by the Human Rights Council, Strengthening Efforts to Prevent and Eliminate Child, Early and Forced Marriage: Challenges, Achievements, Best Practices and Implementation Gaps (A/HRC/RES/24/23)’ 2013

[6]Goal 5.3, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, ‘Sustainable Development Goals,’ Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform < https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300> accessed 13 May 2021

[7]Women Alliance, ‘Child marriage – a practice driven by poverty’ (n 4)

[8]UNICEF, ‘Child marriage is a violation of human rights, but is all too common’ (April 2020) <https://data.unicef.org/topic/child-protection/child-marriage/> accessed 13 May 2021

[9]ICRW, ‘Child marriage and poverty’ <https://www.icrw.org/files/images/Child-Marriage-Fact-Sheet-Poverty.pdf> accessed 13 May 2021

[10]Nour, Nawal M. “Child marriage: a silent health and human rights issue.” Reviews in obstetrics & gynecology vol. 2,1 (2009): 51-6

[11]Girls Not Brides, ‘About child marriage’ <https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/about-child-marriage/why-child-marriage-happens/> accessed 13 May 2021

[12]United Nations Population Fund, ‘Child marriage – Frequently Asked Questions’ (January 2020) <https://www.unfpa.org/child-marriage-frequently-asked-questions> accessed 13 May 2021

[13]ibid

[14]United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, ‘Child and forced marriage, including in humanitarian settings’ (n 1)

[15]Women Alliance, ‘Child marriage – a practice driven by poverty’ (n 4)

[16]Girls Not Brides, ‘About child marriage’ (n 11)

[17]Women Alliance, ‘Child marriage – a practice driven by poverty’ (n 4)

[18]Nour, Nawal M. “Child marriage: a silent health and human rights issue.” Reviews in obstetrics & gynecology vol. 2,1 (2009): 51-6

[19]ibid

[20]ibid

[21]Women Alliance, ‘Child marriage – a practice driven by poverty’ (n 4)

[22]Nour, Nawal M. “Child marriage: a silent health and human rights issue.” Reviews in obstetrics & gynecology vol. 2,1 (2009): 51-6

[23]Nyasha Chingono, My dreams were destroyed’: poverty costs child brides dear in Zimbabwe’ The Guardian (04 January 2019)

[24]World Health Organization, ‘Obstetric fistula’ (19 February 2018) <https://www.who.int/news-room/facts-in-pictures/detail/10-facts-on-obstetric-fistula> last accessed 21 May 2021

[25]Plan International, ‘Ending Child Marriage’ <https://plan-uk.org/about/our-work/child-marriage> accessed 24 May 2021

[26]ibid

[27]Women Alliance, ‘Child marriage – a practice driven by poverty’ (n 4)

[28]ibid

[29]Nour, Nawal M. “Child marriage: a silent health and human rights issue.” Reviews in obstetrics & gynecology vol. 2,1 (2009): 51-6

[30]ActionAid, ‘Child Marriage’ < https://www.actionaid.org.uk/our-work/womens-rights/child-marriage> last accessed 24 May 2021

Disability in Street Children: Causes and Impacts

Young boy in poverty in developing region.

Overview

A large number of children living with disabilities are living in developing regions (1). This is very important here at Poverty Child as many of these children are living on the street. This is a large public health concern, as disability in street children can greatly impact children’s physical and mental health.

Street children and poverty

Work at Poverty Child aims to improve the lives and outcomes of children living and working on the street. The term ‘Street Children’ is used to describe either children who live and work on the streets, or those who spend a a lot of time on the street but sleep away from public spaces (2).

Poverty is a main cause of children having to live on the street. Other causes include the death of family members, neglect or violence. Poverty is also a main cause of disability, where the cost of healthcare prevents many people from being able to access vital services (3). Disability can increase the probability of being in poverty, as it prevents many from being able to work. In addition, many children receive poorer education as a result of disability. To clarify, disability and poverty are closely linked, as both impact on the lives of street children. Disability in street children adds an additional hardship. For example, street children living with disabilities are more vulnerable to violence and typically have poorer health (2).

Furthermore, disabled street children are often ignored and they try to remain hidden as a result of the high levels of discrimination they experience (2). Work in Sierra Leone by Street Child has shown that discrimination is one of the biggest factors contributing to poor education for children living with disabilities (4).

In addition, the current Coronavirus pandemic has also had a large impact on street children living with disabilities (5). This has made it harder for them to access food or help. Currently, there is a need to remotely support children with disabilities due to Coronavirus.

Causes of disability in street children

There are a large number of factors which can cause disability in children (1). However, many of these have been tackled in higher income countries. Yet, many preventable diseases are continuing to cause disability in children of low-income settings (1). For example, disability may be caused by infectious diseases, infections by parasites and  diseases not directly spread from person to person (1). In addition, in poor regions and street children especially, factors such as malnutrition, maternal and perinatal disease and social unrest are also common causes (3).

Types of disability

A person with a disability has a long term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment (6). Research from Street Child suggests that more street children have intellectual disabilities than physical ones. For example, this may include learning and social impairments. Subsequently, this can affect their education (7).

Figure describing both the social and medical models of disability. The diagram reads that the social model includes the impact of discrimination which can lead to poorer job prospects. In contrast, the medical model more closely describes the lack of physical ability and that the disability is the problem, not that of society.

The Medical and Social Models of Disability (6)

Models of disability

The social model of disability highlights the discrimination a person may face due to their disability (6). This stigma has existed for a long time, and remains an issue around the world. To add further, there is often a view that disability is the ‘fault’ of the person. Instead, society needs to be fully inclusive of people living with disability (8). In comparison, the medical model of disability more directly focuses on changes to the physical or mental abilities of a person (6).

Discrimination in disabled children

Children living with disability experience stigma and discrimination, on top of the difficulties caused by the disability itself (9). Discrimination is described by UNICEF as ‘any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of disability’ (6). This causes many children to feel isolated and helpless (9).

Discrimination in education

Disability often prevents children from fully taking part in their community. As a result, this causes many to feel like outsiders within their own communities (8). For example, it is common for children with disabilities to be separated in classrooms. Some teachers will refuse to teach children with disabilities alongside other children (8). This continues to make those with disabilities believe there is something wrong with them. Furthermore, it also suggests to able-bodied children that the two groups need to be separated. This results in poorer education for disabled children. Many children begin to feel this stigma towards themselves, which results in them not wanting to seek help or access to health services. This further adds to the struggle of living with disability as a child. Furthermore, they have been left behind in the global attempt to improve education for street children as a whole (10).

Gender-based discrimination

Gender-based discrimination is also experienced by girls living with disabilities. Consequently, they overall receive less education and less career training than boys with disabilities and able-bodied girls of the same age (11). This exclusion is commonly as a result of them being invisible. Therefore, it is important that we work to include disabled girls within and out-with disabled communities (11).

Developments to disability in street children

Many organisations are working to improve the health and lives of children living in low income countries (1). In particular, programmes are working to improve the outcomes of disability in street children. For example, community-based programmes are being used to emphasise the importance of good health care for disabled children. The introduction of such programmes has helped improve childhood access to healthcare in Tanzania. This is a country currently struggling with high rates or childhood disability (1).

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 hope to make education more inclusive and more accessible to all children (10). However, there is a lack of research on the education of disabled children, particularly in those living on the streets (9). This is due to a lack of funding. As a result, this limits the improvements which can be made to the education of disabled street children. One way to solve this is through fundraising campaigns. These campaigns are increasing awareness and therefore support for projects. Subsequently, this increase in funding is helping to meet the needs of every child living with disability.

In addition, there is a mindset that we need to ‘fix’ children living with disabilities. This implies that something is wrong with them. Instead, it is better if we work to remove the stigma the children face. This would result in children being free to succeed no matter their impairment (8). For instance, UNICEF’s ‘Its about ability’ campaign is aimed at changing community perception of disability, which is helping to improve the acceptance and inclusion of disabled children (8).

Coronavirus

Sadly, the global pandemic had a negative impact on much of the progress being made. However, organisations such as Chance For Childhood have done great work to meet the needs of disabled street children through outreach teams during this difficult time. The result: much improved support of street children in Kenya and Ghana (5).

Overall, these programmes can collectively help us to improve disability in street children.

 


References

  1. Cameron D, Nixon S, Parnes P, Pidsadny M. Children with disabilities in low-income countries. Paediatrics & Child Health [Internet]. 2005 [cited 25 April 2021];10(5):269-272. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2722543/
  2. org. The Facts about Street Children | Consortium for Street Children [Internet]. Consortium for Street Children. 2019 [cited 5 May 2021]. Available from: https://www.streetchildren.org/about-street-children/
  3. Simkiss D, Blackburn C, Mukoro F, Read J, Spencer N. Childhood disability and socio-economic circumstances in low and middle income countries: systematic review. BMC Pediatrics [Internet]. 2011 [cited 25 April 2021];11(1). Available from: https://bmcpediatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2431-11-119
  4. Weimert F. Discrimination is the biggest obstacle to education for children with disabilities — Street Child Switzerland [Internet]. Street Child Switzerland. 2018 [cited 5 May 2021]. Available from: https://www.street-child.ch/news/discrimination-education-children-with-disabilities
  5. Chance For Childhood. How we’re supporting vulnerable children during Coronavirus | Chance for Childhood – Children’s charity [Internet]. Chance for Childhood. 2020 [cited 5 May 2021]. Available from: https://chanceforchildhood.org/latest-news/how-were-supporting-vulnerable-children-during-coronavirus/
  6. Desk Review for Developing Measures on Discriminatory Attitudes and Social Norms towards Children with Disabilities in Europe and Central Asia region [Internet]. Dornsfife: UNICEF; 2018. Available from: https://www.unicef.org/eca/media/13391/file
  7. Kamara J. A Study on the Barriers to Education for Children with Disabilities in Sierra Leone [Internet]. Chicago: Street Child; 2018. Available from: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5620ddc4e4b04789570e5fca/t/5b570243aa4a997ca1cf356b/1532428909558/A%2BStudy%2Bon%2Bthe%2B%2BBarriers%2Bto%2BEducation%2Bfor%2BChildren%2Bwith%2BDisabilities%2Bin%2BSierra%2BLeone%2B.pdf
  8. Children with disabilities [Internet]. Unicef.org. 2021 [cited 25 April 2021]. Available from: https://www.unicef.org/eca/children-disabilities
  9. Maulik P, Darmstadt G. Childhood Disability in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Overview of Screening, Prevention, Services, Legislation, and Epidemiology. PEDIATRICS [Internet]. 2007 [cited 25 April 2021];120(Supplement):S1-S55. Available from: https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/120/Supplement_1/S1.full.pdf
  10. The World Bank. Education: Children with disabilities are being left behind, says World Bank/GPE report [Internet]. 2017. Available from: https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2017/12/01/children-with-disabilities-are-being-left-behind
  11. The State of the World’s Children 2013 [Internet]. Unicef.org. 2013 [cited 25 April 2021]. Available from: https://www.unicef.org/reports/state-worlds-children-2013

 

What is Poverty?

Indian child in poverty looking through barbed wire

Poverty is a global issue that affects many people. Across the world there is thought to be 734 million people who live on less that $1.90 a day1 (according to studies in 2015).

Poverty is the state of not having enough material possessions or income for a person’s basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion, as well as the lack of participation in decision making. Pre-pandemic, around 10% of the world population were living in extreme poverty and struggling to fulfil basic needs2, such as health, education and access to water and sanitation. It is a complex issue that may include social, economic, political and geographical elements. There is no single best measure of poverty, it does not mean the same thing for everyone.

In 2015, the United Nations Member States all agreed upon 17 Sustainable Development Goals to protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere.

As part of the 15-year plan, the first goal is to end poverty3. The Sustainable Development Goals main reference to ending poverty is in target 1.A: “Ensure significant mobilisation of resources from a variety of sources, including through enhanced development cooperation, in order to provide adequate and predictable means for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, to implement programmes and policies to end poverty in all its dimensions.” Many charities, including Poverty Child, are working on this common goal. However, this is a large task and figures show that currently, we will not reach that target. The aftermath of the pandemic threatens to push a further 70 million people into extreme poverty4.

How do you measure poverty?

There is not one distinguished measure of poverty, it is a complex issue that has many dependents. Poverty can mean something different to a lot of people. The UK measures poverty in different ways, two commonly used measures5 are:

  • People in relative low income (living in households with income below 60% of the median that year).
  • People in absolute low income (living in households with income below 60% of (inflation-adjusted) median income in the same base year – usually 2010/11).

Absolute low income looks at whether living standards at the bottom of the distribution are improving over time. Income can be measured before or after housing costs are deducted (BHC or AHC). Poverty levels tend to be higher after housing costs as poorer households tend to spend a higher proportion of their income on housing.

According to a House of Commons Library report, 11 million people were living in relative low income BHC (UK) in 2018/19. This was 17% of the population. Of that, 2.8 million children were living in poverty6. Another measurement is destitution, this is where someone is not able to afford basics such as shelter, heating and clothing and is the lowest level of poverty.

What causes poverty?

There are many causes of poverty, these can vary across the world. Some of the major causes in the UK include:

  • Low pay.
    72% of children living in poverty have at least one parent in work7. However, the long-term effects of being in the lowest paid 20% of the UK labour market has been a major cause of enduring poverty in the UK. Often in the case of low paid jobs, there are not opportunities for promotion and the hours are unpredictable.
  • Worklessness.
    Since 2006, there has been a 60% rise in the number of people moving repeatedly between work and unemployment8.
    68% of children in families with no working adults are in poverty9. Often people want to work but they are not able to due to different barriers to work. This is heightened during the pandemic when many businesses are having to close and subsequently workers are being let go.
  • Inadequate benefits.
    Currently, in-work benefits are not sufficient to overcome labour market challenges and keep people out of poverty. Not only that but housing and childcare costs are constantly increasing, this increases families risks of poverty. The social security system should provide a safety net to prevent people falling into poverty – this is not the case for most.

There are many other causes for poverty, such as discrimination, abuse and trauma, and weak relationships. These causes could be a consequence of a random life event or moment, that then catches people in a trap and keeps them in a cycle that they cannot escape. This could simply be getting sick and not being able to work for a while.

The effects of poverty can be severe. They can lead to homelessness, health issues, family issues, drug or alcohol abuse and lower educational achievement, to name a few. It has a huge impact on the community and those surrounding it. Poverty affects more than one in four children in the UK today. Children who grow up in poverty miss out on what many of us take for granted, clothing, three meals a day, even a school trip. It is often found that students who are in poverty are less likely to be successful at school and then earn less as adults. This cycle is vicious but not inevitable. If we work together, it will be possible to have a stronger economy and a fairer society that will help everyone.

What does Poverty Child do?

Poverty Child is part of that movement to help the children who are living in poverty10. We are a charity that is dedicated to improving the life for street and slum connected children. Our mission is to empower them to achieve their true potential. Anyone could fall on hard times and find it difficult to make ends meet. It is important to be there to help everyone when they do.

Some of the work that we offer includes:

  • Mobile clinics.
    These provide basic healthcare to children in poorer areas.
  • Street schools
    A cordoned street that becomes a classroom for learning basic literacy and numeracy.
  • Day Centres
    A safe place for children to get a meal, wash, counselling and basic schooling.
  • Night Centres
    A safe place for a child to sleep at night.

This work is currently focused abroad.

Please look through our blog to see more information on ways you can help our charity. This can include donating directly or volunteering. It is also possible to recycle coins and currency, mobile phones, cameras and other gadgets, old jewellery, stamps and ink cartridges. Please visit our homepage for more information.

 

Bibliography

1,2,4

Nations, U., 2021. Ending Poverty | United Nations. [online] United Nations. Available at: <https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/ending-poverty> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

3

Nations, U., 2021. Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere. [online] United Nations Sustainable Development. Available at: <https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/poverty/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

5, 6

Francis-Devine, B., 2021. Poverty in the UK: Statistics. [online] Commons Library. Available at: <https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn07096/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

7,8,9

CPAG. 2021. Child Poverty. [online] Available at: <https://cpag.org.uk/child-poverty> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

10

Poverty Child. 2021. Poverty Child – empowering street and slum connected children. [online] Available at: <https://povertychild.org> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

Additional Resources:

JRF. 2021. What is poverty?. [online] Available at: <https://www.jrf.org.uk/our-work/what-is-poverty> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

United Nations Sustainable Development. 2021. Take Action for the Sustainable Development Goals. [online] Available at: <https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

 

 

How Your Recycling Helps Poverty Child

Poverty Child prides itself on the fact that 95% of your donations is used to further our mission. We are always grateful for and humbled by your generosity- you help to transform our projects from ideas into lifelines for impoverished children. We want you to know how your recycling helps our cause.

Your recycling helps give flexibility.

The funds that are generated from your recycled goods are unrestricted income. This means funds are pooled to become available for where the most need is.  The needs of the children we help change over time. So it gives us the flexibility to invest the funds in response to their changing needs, either by adapting our existing projects or creating new ones if necessary.  As well as this, it allows us to make up for any shortfalls of funds that we have. For example, we used recycling income to make up for a funding shortfall in our project with Fairplay For All Foundation. It was your recycling efforts that allowed the project to then reach its full potential.

Your recycling helps to fund vital research.

It is different to secure funding for research and data collection. Donors appear to be more willing to provide tangible aid such as food and clothing. Yet, the research and the data for our projects is just as vital. Without this research, it would be hard to know what the children need and how they can be helped. Our research is the foundation of our projects, enabling us to build relationships with the children that we find in the developing world. The funds from the recycling initiative contributes to this data collection. It helps us to build our projects based on crucial data. It is an extremely important starting point for many of our projects.

It’s a vital part of our fundraising strategy.

The income generated by recycling is relatively small, but that doesn’t mean to say it isn’t important. The programme allows us to diversify our income and therefore protect our projects, to some extent, against any drops in revenue. During times of economic and/or political uncertainty, people are more cautious about how and where they spend their earnings. As a result, donating to charity is often dropped from household budgets. Your recycling helps us protect our projects from fluctuating income in uncertain times.

Most importantly, your recycling helps slum and street children.

Aside from our different projects, our wider mission is to break the cycle of poverty for many children in the developing world. Whether your donations are funding our research, data collection, or tangible aid, they are contributing to this mission. Your time and efforts are helping us to make a real difference in the world. By getting involved with our initiative, your recycling is successfully changing lives.  Click the link to find out more about our work and our projects in developing countries.

5 Simple Steps For Decluttering Using KonMari

konmari method steps for decluttering and recycling

Whether it’s time for a spring clean, you’re moving house, or there’s too much clutter in your home, decluttering is always worthwhile. There’s nothing like a clutter-free home to leave you feeling organised and cleansed. It seems that decluttering has recently become quite the phenomenon. With Marie Kondo’s growing fame, more people than ever seem enthusiastic about decluttering. If your house is in need of a declutter, we can help. Consider this “Poverty Child meets KonMari”. Below are 5 simple steps for decluttering your home. These are based on the guidance of Marie Kondo and her KonMari method for tidying. Once you have established which items you no longer want to keep, you can recycle them with us. Creating a tidy and organised space has never been so simple.

Commit yourself to the task of decluttering

This is Marie Kondo’s first rule of decluttering. Before starting what can seem like the tedious task of tidying, get yourself into a positive mindset. Remind yourself of your motivation for decluttering. As the KonMari method emphasises, imagine your ideal lifestyle. Let this guide you. A decluttered home will bring you better organisation, increased productivity and less stress. If you’re using the KonMari method for the first time, keep reminding yourself that it will be interesting and inspiring to try something new. Remember that all the goods you decide to get rid of will be recycled with us. This will help to fund our projects in developing countries. You’ll have played a part in helping vulnerable children that are subject to a life in slums and on the streets.

Tidy by category, not by location

Part of the KonMari method is that you tidy according to the category of your items, not by their location. Don’t tidy by room, tidy by category. One of Marie Kondo’s rules is that you stick to the order. You start with clothes, then books, and then move on to papers, miscellaneous items and sentimental items. Gather your items into these categories before sorting through them.

Ask yourself, “does this item bring me joy?”

One of Marie Kondo’s main principles for the KonMari method is that you focus on what brings you joy. You should think about what you can keep instead of what you can discard. Once you have your categories sorted, go through each item and ask “does this item bring me any joy?” If your answer is yes, put the item into a pile of things to keep. If it no longer sparks joy, put the item in a pile of belongings to send to our recycling initiative. You can check out all the items we can accept under the “donate” tab on our website. We are happy to accept broken items, so don’t worry if things aren’t working as they should be.

Contact us for postage materials

If your stuff weighs 10kg or more altogether, you can request a recycling sack from us. Alternatively, if your items weigh less than this, you can ask us for an address label. We’ll email this out to you for posting your unwanted goods to us.

Send your unwanted goods to us

After all the hard work and commitment that has gone into your decluttering, it’s time to get rid of your unwanted items! If you’ve used the address label, you’ll post them out to us. If you’ve used the recycling sacks from us, we can arrange for a courier to collect the items you are kindly donating. All this information is available on our website.

Once you’ve decluttered your home, be proud of the effort you have put into creating a more organised space. You’ll soon begin to feel the benefits of having an organised and decluttered home to live in. Remember, this process isn’t just helping you and anybody else that shares your home. You’re helping us to fund our projects. These projects aim to break the vicious cycle of poverty street children are trapped in. Your donated items will help us to make a real difference.

Ideas For Phase 3 Of National Citizen Service (NCS)

NCS phase 3 teamwork for community project

You’ve conquered the activities your five-day NCS residential had thrown your way. You’ve mastered several life skills in phase 2. Now, you’re looking for a way to make an impact in your community. Phase 3 is all about making a difference. By using our recycling initiative as your social project, you’ll be doing nothing short of that. You will be helping your local community to declutter and come together for a common cause. But, your impact will reach even further than your local community. You will be helping to tackle the vicious poverty cycle that many vulnerable children are in. With the skills you’ve gained and our support, your community project will make a real difference.

About Our Initiative

Our recycling initiative is a unique and creative way to improve the lives of slum and street children. The items that we collect are resold for cash to fund our projects. We work to give poor children opportunities to better their lives and break the cycle of poverty. We accept many items from clothes, jewellery, unwanted gadgets and even old cars! There’s more information on the items we can collect under the “donate” tab on our website.

Some Ideas For Your Social Project

Organise a recycling event in your local community

This could be item specific or to recycle many items. For example, you could collect old mobile phones within your local community. Or, you could ask for people to bring any recyclable goods to a specific collection point. Make sure you promote your event with leaflets and posters. Tell your community what they can recycle and where they need to take their goods to. There’s more information on our website about each specific item and the conditions they must be in.

Work with local businesses to recycle items

Local businesses are always disposing of items, such as ink cartridges and laptops. These might not be of any value to the business anymore, but they are to our recycling initiative. Contact local businesses and encourage them to recycle their goods for your community project. It’s also a great way to impress employers with your effort and project management!

Get creative!

You could rally a team together and head down to your local city centre to encourage people to recycle with you. To draw attention to your project, you could get creative and dress up as a recycling item, such as a mobile phone!

Get competitive!

You could also run a competition within your community to see who can recycle the most. It could be on large competition between individuals. Or, you could run competitions between households, estates, and businesses that take part!

We’ll support your social project

Here at Poverty Child we have valuable experience in running fundraising projects. We can offer our guidance to help you execute yours. We can provide materials you need such as collection boxes and posters if necessary. We’ll also be on hand to help with the collection of your donations. You can request a recycling sack from us if you expect your donations to weigh over 10kg altogether. We’ll then arrange to collect your donations from you, free of charge.

If you’re thinking of using our recycling initiative for your NCS community project, we’d love to hear from you. Be sure to get in touch to tell us about your project, and we’ll be happy to help you in any way we can.