A World Fit for Children
The Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly in May 2002 was an incomparable historic occasion. For the first time, the General Assembly gathered with the exclusive intent of discussing children's issues. This session included over 400 children from more than 150 countries, as well as representatives from a wide range of civil societies devoted to children's welfare. The purpose was to review progress since the first major gathering for children, the World Summit for Children, and to shape future action towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight quantifiable development targets to reduce poverty in all its forms, and which are intrinsically linked to the well-being of children.
The resulting outcome document, A World Fit for Children (WFFC), set an agenda with a series of goals and targets for the next decade based on four priorities: promoting healthy lives; providing quality education for all; protecting children against abuse, exploitation and violence; and combating HIV/AIDS. Heads of States committed themselves to building 'A World Fit for Children' and to achieving these commitments during the decade ending in 2010.
UNICEF leads WFFC monitoring efforts
Five years on, UNICEF is responsible for reporting on progress towards these commitments, which is presented in the A World Fit for Children Statistical Review. It is able to do so thanks to improved data collection and analysis, identified as a priority during the Special Session.
The data and analysis in this Statistical Review are based on the ongoing work of UNICEF and its partners to monitor global conditions for children and women. Before the mid-1990s, critical gaps in data hindered accurate and effective analysis of the situation of children and women. Only 38 developing countries, for example, had data on whether malnutrition rates among children were rising or falling - a basic indicator of child health and well-being.
To help countries fill these important data gaps and to enable monitoring of the 1990 World Summit for Children goals, UNICEF initiated the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) in 1995. MICS are designed to provide quantitative data on a wide range of topics, including child health and nutrition, child protection, education, maternal health, and HIV and AIDS.
Since 1995, nearly 200 MICS have been conducted in approximately 100 countries and territories. The current round of surveys, implemented in more than 50 countries during 2005-2006, provides data for 21 of the 53 Millennium Development Goal indicators. Together with the USAID-supported Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), with which the data are harmonized, this is the largest single source of MDG information. In addition, data collected through the latest round of MICS allow for new and more comprehensive assessments of the conditions under which children and women are living. These data allow us, for example, to report on quantitative indicators for child protection issues for the first time.
The data and analyses presented in this A World Fit for Children Statistical Review is based on the wealth of new data that has recently become available through MICS, DHS and other national-level household surveys. This report presents global and regional analyses on whether WFFC and MDG goals are being met, with a full statistical annex that provides country-level progress toward these goals.
The statistical review is structured around the Millennium Development Goals because these are currently the focus of the world's development efforts. Many of the World Fit for Children targets set at the Special Session are effectively stepping stones towards the 2015 MDGs, and governments will henceforth concentrate primarily on their MDG commitments. The World Fit for Children agenda includes vital issues for children not covered by the MDGs, and this publication also represents a unique opportunity to report on these concerns.
UNICEF, 2007 A World Fit for Children Statistical Review, New York, 2007.
More information on the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly in May 2002.
A World Fit for Children Resolution