Equity for Children (EFC), an advocacy and social change initiative of SGPIA that focuses on the rights and wellbeing of children, recently had two research papers published in internationally recognized journals. The Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy published “Assessing Sustainable Development Goals from the standpoint of equity for children”, a paper co-authored by SGPIA Professor Alberto Minujin and SGPIA alum Mildred Ferrer. “Climate Change, Children and Poverty: Engaging Children and Youth in Policy Debate and Action”, co-authored by Professor Alberto Minujin, SGPIA alum Beatrice Mauger, and Milano PhD candidate Samantha Cocco-Klein, was published by the Comparative Research Programme on Poverty at the University of Bergen, Norway.
Beatrice Mauger, Associate Director of EFC and SGPIA alum, recently discussed these publications and other EFC programs in more depth. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
How did you get involved in Equity for Children?
I’ve had a relationship with Equity for Children since 2013. Initially, I got involved [during] the SGPIA program as an External Relations Coordinator and [have been] progressively given more responsibilities. When I graduated, I was offered the Associate Director role.
What are the goals of Equity for Children and how does the organization plan on achieving them? Particularly, what is the overall change that EFC is hoping to effect and what are the main areas of engagement?
Equity for Children was founded in 2006 by SGPIA Professor Alberto Minujin, a leading child rights expert and practitioner, to improve the living conditions of poor, marginalized and underserved children around the world.
EFC develops recommendations and highlights best practices in four focus areas: addressing urban childhood inequities, fighting climate change, promoting early childhood development and childcare, and strengthening social protection. We emphasize multidimensional assessments of poverty, instead of the income only approach, highlighting its link to inequality, [and we] promote the active voice of children and young people. Our mission is to advance an agenda of social justice for children and to strengthen the impact of programs and policies connected to child well-being by producing original research, creating networking opportunities through our events and online forums, and conducting advocacy work. We aim to stimulate critical and innovative thinking about child poverty and inequality via our English, Spanish and Portuguese websites.
We are currently seeking to expand our presence at The New School by engaging with other centers such as the Tishman Environment and Design Center and the Center for New York City Affairs and are always open to new ideas for content and programs from students, alumni and faculty. We are also partnering outside the university with various international organizations on different initiatives like the Coalition to End Child Poverty.
For each of these published papers, what was the motivation behind the research?
“Assessing Sustainable Development Goals from the standpoint of equity for children” examines the child rights debate from the 1989 ratification of the Convention of the Rights of the Child to the Post-2015 Agenda, which was recently adopted. We highlight the importance of creating social accountability processes to encourage child and youth participation at the local level, in order to reduce poverty and inequalities and meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The paper concludes by proposing eight steps to advance a child-inclusive agenda in coming years.
“Climate Change, Children and Poverty: Engaging Children and Youth in Policy Debate and Action” is a poverty brief which highlights that poor children should be encouraged to play an active role in raising awareness about, and creating innovative solutions to, climate change, given they are particularly vulnerable to its effects. It was written following an EFC event on “Climate Change, Cities and Youth Engagement” at The New School in November 2015.
How does this research contribute to and expand upon knowledge previously established in the field?
With regards to “Assessing Sustainable Development Goals from the standpoint of equity for children”, the paper outlines key debates about addressing child poverty and inequality over the past 25 years and also proposes ways to ensure that the SDGs and their targets are implemented within a child-inclusive framework. In particular, it highlights the importance of creating and applying social accountability mechanisms that include the voices of children, thus helping to develop more equitable societies.
“Climate Change, Children and Poverty: Engaging Children and Youth in Policy Debate and Action” highlights examples of projects or initiatives where children have shown innovative approaches to raising awareness and implementing changes to improve their communities’ resiliency in the face of climate change. The article makes the point that even in the poorest contexts, the voice and participation of children at all levels of decision-making will help create a more sustainable, equitable and resilient society and it proposes ways to do so.
What measurable outcomes are you aiming to achieve by the publication of these works?
In terms of the first paper, one of the key outcomes we are hoping to see is greater awareness about social accountability mechanisms and ways to implement them at all levels, particularly those that include children’s voices. We are also hoping to see greater inclusion of the child rights perspective in the global debate on eliminating poverty and inequality through the SDGs.
With the poverty brief, we are looking to promote the importance of including the voices of children and youth in the fight against climate change. We hope to help facilitate youth activism and increase the number of young advocates at all decision-making levels, including in local communities and global conferences seeking to address the impacts of climate change. In addition, we are currently looking into developing an inventory of tools for youth climate activists or would-be advocates, with the goal of turning our website into a go-to resource for all young people seeking to engage in combating climate change.
What’s next for Equity for Children?
Currently we are working on two key areas: addressing urban childhood inequities and amplifying youth voices in fighting climate change. With regards to urban childhood inequities, we recently held a two-day conference, entitled Urban Inequities and Children, which convened over 200 high level U.S. and international researchers, local government representatives, multilateral agency directors, and foundation representatives to discuss how to improve public policy and urban design to ensure quality childhood development in cities. We will soon publish a conference report and five recommendations for integrating child voices and needs in the urban agenda, which will be disseminated widely.
On climate change, we are currently writing an in-depth academic paper highlighting three youth-led and/or youth targeting initiatives from different countries and contexts, addressing respective priorities and concerns about climate change. We are also looking into developing and facilitating a global network of youth climate advocates and using the Equity for Children website as a clearinghouse of resources, including toolkits, webinars and good practices for young climate activists.
In addition, last year we published Approaches to Equity, a study that investigates views about the concept of equity by leaders of international organizations, foundations and research institutions and contains recommendations for policymakers, practitioners and researchers. We are now starting the next phase of the research which will focus on practical approaches to addressing urban inequities.
Visit www.equityforchildren.org for more information.