There are hundreds of millions of children in the world who starve, who die of preventable causes, who are injured by bombs and who are exploited for work. Girls are forced into marriage and have even fewer opportunities to access education.
Spain cannot be excluded from this situation. Our country needs more stable and modern international cooperation and better equipped humanitarian work to respond to an ethical challenge of the scale that children suffer in extreme situations where their rights are laminated.
The challenges are remarkable. It should be noted that in recent decades there has been significant progress in the situation of children in the world. For example, child mortality has halved between 1990 and 2020. Child marriage and child labor are also falling, and more girls are attending and staying in school than ever before. At Unicef, we contribute to these achievements thanks to constant and coordinated work with governments around the world.
However, the combination of Covid-19, conflict and climate change – the so-called 3C – is having a devastating effect, throwing away some of the progress made. The pandemic alone has thrown an additional 100 million children into poverty, undermined education with lasting effects on the lives of many, and increased violence against children. The climate crisis, which they did not contribute to, is affecting their health and nutrition, leaving them less prepared to face the thirst and hunger it causes.
What we see for the girls and boys suffering from the war in Ukraine is being replicated in other wars, some forgotten
What we see for the girls and boys suffering from the war in Ukraine is being replicated in other wars, some of which have been forgotten by all but children and humanitarian organizations like UNICEF. Now it is inflation caused by the combination of these three crises that falls on girls and boys in vulnerable situations who can no longer do so.
Faced with this wave that crushes rights, it is essential that Spanish cooperation has childhood as one of its main objectives. The moment is now. Spanish cooperation is undergoing a transformation. A new Law on International Cooperation for Sustainable Development is being debated in Parliament, which will be accompanied by the necessary reform of the Spanish Cooperation Agency, its financial branch, the subsidy provisions and the cooperator statute.
Faced with a tide that crushes rights, it is essential that Spanish cooperation has childhood as one of its goals
In all of this, and especially in the Act, childhood must be included as a central priority. In fact, it already appears as one of the principles in the draft law, which is an improvement over the previous regulation. However, this priority must now be rolled out by supporting the necessary investment of resources in children’s programs in critical sectors for the lives of boys and girls, such as education, social protection or health, including mental health.
At the same time, it is necessary that each of the actions of the Spanish Cooperation takes into account its potential impact on children’s rights, wherever it takes place.
Afghan girls don’t vote, nor can Latin American slum boys influence public opinion on social media
Sometimes we come across programs and projects that seem positive in their goals, but end up having a negative impact on children. This is the case with Financial Cooperation, where the private sector is an important actor and must ensure that its actions are consistent with due care in protecting against child abuse and harassment.
Afghan girls don’t vote, nor can Latin American slum children influence public opinion through social media. They have enough to carry out their daily lives. However, the Spanish Cooperation, as an expression of the solidarity of the population, has an undeniable obligation to the children of the world, which must be translated into more decisive actions and better equipped to protect their rights.