The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced today that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 will be awarded to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzay for their work upholding girls’ right to education and ending child labor. The work of these two activists highlights the critical importance of advancing children’s rights and the obstacles children still face around the world.
The Fielding School’s WORLD Policy Analysis Center (WORLD) assists individuals, civil society and policymakers working to improve health, education, well-being and equity by providing globally comparable data on legislation and policies that shape children’s and adult’s everyday lives.
WORLD carried out a multi-year study to examine the state of child education, labor and other rights and social conditions shaping their lives in 193 countries. Critical gaps remain. Research shows that girls’ equal opportunities to complete their education are jeopardized when tuition fees are charged and when girls are married at young ages.
WORLD’s data shows that tuition fees still create a barrier to girls completing secondary school in 40 countries and 15-year-old girls may legally be married with parental consent in 41 countries.
While nearly all countries have signed agreements that include articles against hazardous child labor, there are still 46 countries that do not legally protect children under the age of 18 from performing hazardous work. Moreover, even among those who do ban hazardous child labor, a substantial number include exceptions in their legislation that allow children at younger ages to legally perform hazardous work, such as for vocational purposes or in the company of family members. When these exceptions are taken into account, the number of countries permitting hazardous work before age 18 climbs to 83.
Government action can help ensure equality for girls and protect all children from harmful work, just as the absence of key laws and policies puts the children Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi work for at greater risk.
November 20, 2014 will mark the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a landmark U.N. agreement that laid the foundation for strengthening children’s health protections around the world. The WORLD Policy Analysis Center at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health is set to release a comprehensive new set of reports, maps, and public use datasets between November 6th and 20th to mark the anniversary.
For more information on the legal protections children do and don’t have, visit worldpolicyforum.org.