Introduction were treated along with the adult population

Introduction

The concept of child poverty evolved when the dominant
approach, that defined poverty in monetary terms and at the household level in
general, excluded children’s special needs and their fulfilment (Gordon, A. et.
al. 2001, Gordon A. et. al. 2003, Minujin, A. et. al. 2006). Defining the concept as well as measurement
of child poverty by UNICEF initiatives in the early-2000s has opened a new
dimension to see vulnerability of children. This has helped the international
community, national actors and practitioners to think about the poverty of
children particularly and beyond a merely monetary poverty line at the
household level. Its implication in programmatic interventions is also
significant.             

The Concept of Child Poverty

Children
(0-18 years old population) share about one-third of the world population (PRB
2014, Unicef 2014). According to latest available data, the world’s child population
is 2.2 billion (Unicef 2014). However, in most of the mainstream poverty
literatures and measures, children were treated along with the adult population
until recently (Gordon, D. et. al. 2001, Gordon D. et. al. 2003, Minujin,
A. et. al. 2006).
Even
after many years of adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC),
over half of the children in the developing world were living in poverty (Minujin,
A. et. al. 2006, 481; Unicef 2005). One of the reasons for this failure of the
world could be that the vulnerability of the children was ignored because of lack
of appropriate measurement. During that time the dominant approach of
identifying and measuring poverty in monetary terms was challenged by the newly
evolved multidisciplinary approached such as the human rights-based approach,
the basic needs approach and the capability approach (ibid, 481-482). However,
none of the approaches differentiate between the concept of child poverty and
poverty in general (ibid, 482). As Minujin, A. et. al. 2006 views, “Not only has child poverty been excluded
from the debate but it has also been invisible in the efforts to measure and
tackle poverty” (Minujin, A. et. al. 2006, 482). Children are the
significant sufferers of poverty and inequality and their sufferings are
different for that of the adults (Minujin, 2012). Children have specific and different needs. As Minujin (2012) sates, “While an adult may
fall into poverty temporarily, falling into poverty in childhood can last a
lifetime – rarely does a child get a second chance at an education or a healthy
start in life. Even short periods of food deprivation can impact children’s long-term
development. If children do not receive adequate nutrition, they grow smaller
in size and intellectual capacity, are more vulnerable to life-threatening
diseases, perform worse in school, and ultimately, are less likely to be
productive adults. Child poverty threatens not only the individual child, but
is likely to be passed on to future generations, entrenching and even
exacerbating inequality in society” (Minujin 2012). The crucial question of the debate was whether child
poverty needs to be defined independently, or should it be defined in relation
to the adults in the household? (Gordon, D. et. al 2001). As Gordon, D. (2001)
concludes, “According to the Convention
on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the answer is that it should be defined
independently. The CRC gives children the rights to survive, develop,
participate and be protected” (Gordon, D. et. al 2001, 2).

 

UNICEF,
based on the human rights approach and the Convention on the Rights of the
Child, defines child poverty as the deprivation of a range of both material and
social supports and services that it considers to be essential to ensure
children’s well-being ((Minujin, A. et. al. 2006,485). UNICEF’s working
definition of child poverty says:

“Children living in poverty experience
deprivation of the material, spiritual and emotional resources needed to
survive, develop and thrive, leaving them unable to enjoy their rights, achieve
their full potential or participate as full and equal members of society.” (UNICEF 2005, 18).