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UNICEF: Situation of Children Improving in Georgia

Friday, November 25
The government has made impressive strides in improving the situation of children and addressing inequities. A decade ago, a child born in Georgia had lower chances of surviving, being registered at birth and accessing basic services. However, more than one quarter of Georgian children still live in poverty - these are the major findings of the UNICEF new flagship report - Update on the Situation of Children in Georgia - being presented yesterday at the special event organized at the Parliament of Georgia and attended by the First Lady of Georgia Sandra Elisabeth Roelofs, Vice-Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia Gigi Tsereteli, Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs, Andrew Urushadze, UNICEF Representative in Georgia Roeland Monasch, and Public Defender of Georgia George Tugushi.

“Georgia has made enormous gains for its children in recent years. Child mortality has reduced significantly. Almost all primary school age children are attending school. More families and their children have gained access to improved water sources. Advances in child protection and participation have been significant. Fewer children are in institutions and more children are being registered at birth.” said Roeland Monasch, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “The government has made impressive strides in addressing inequities with the expansion of multi-lingual and easy-to-access civil registry systems, better parenting materials, and guidance on how the poor and ethnic minorities can access essential childhood services. Young children have a better start in life and are receiving more opportunities that were previously only available to well-off families.”

According to the report the government has allocated more financial resources to education, health and social protection, mainly at the cost of reduced defense expenditure. As a result, the share of social expenditure within overall public spending has increased, as has the share of social expenditure in relation to gross domestic product. However, Georgia is still one of the lowest social spenders in the Central and Eastern Europe/Commonwealth of Independent States region.

“There are major challenges that remain – challenges that we must tackle in the next five years if we are to adhere to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, meet the Millennium Development Goals and attain the vision outlined in the Millennium Declaration by the year 2015”, said Roeland Monasch, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “The fact that more than one quarter of Georgian children live in poverty makes ongoing reforms in the social protection system critical. The commitment to equity that has borne results in recent years must be maintained,” added Monasch.

Additional equity-based investments in pre-school education are required to address the problem that children in the poorest families are significantly less likely to attend pre-school than their peers in the richest families. Promotion of healthy life styles among teenagers – through sport, good nutrition and the values of teamwork - is an urgent priority to combat smoking and drug use. Support job-creating policies, especially for young people in rural areas, decreasing unemployment rates. Rural sanitation requires additional attention. Social exclusion needs to be addressed, especially for children with disabilities, who tend to be excluded and isolated. Timely identification and response to violence against women and children is also a priority.

The Government of Georgia is in the process of submitting its fourth periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, reporting on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). This provides a good opportunity to reflect and review progress towards fulfilling the rights of all Georgian children.