A new global Childhood Index and report has ranked Malawi as one the worst countries for one to have a safe, secure and health childhood in.
The End of Childhood Report 2017, released by Save the Children in Lilongwe on Thursday, ranks Malawi at 149 out of 172 countries. It focuses on eight of life changing events that signal the end of a full and complete childhood.
The report is also part of Save the Children’s global efforts through the Every Last Child Campaign which is aimed at reaching out to children left behind.
The child-rights based organisation explained that the data, compiled from reliable and reputable sources, shows that significant trends in under–five mortality, malnutrition that stunts growth, percentage of out of school children; adolescents and youth; child labour and adolescent marriage caused Malawi to be thus positioned.
Speaking during the launch, Save the Children Country Director Tina Yu said it was high time the country begun to be accountable to its children.
“For a start, we should be treating all children equally and we should emphasize on financing services that target children equally and fairly. In this way, we should be able to reach out to those children that are always left behind.”
Yu, was however pleased with past efforts Malawi made in combating child marriage hence allowing girls to stay in school and enjoy their childhood.
In her remarks, Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Jean Kalirani said much as the report was damning in many ways, it was important to build on the little positives highlighted.
“Actually, the ranking should give us all the courage to make a difference in the lives of many children that are missing out on their childhood because of decisions society makes for them. This calls for all of us to reposition ourselves and play a pivotal role to ensure that children’s rights are realized and safeguarded,” Kalirani said.
Malawi managed to attain the Millennium Development Goal number four by significantly reducing the child mortality rate from 245 to 68 deaths per live births between 1990 and 2013.
Recently, the country also made an amendment to the legal age for marriage which was widely hailed as a landmark legislation and instrument for the protection of children especially girls.
Norway leads the pack of the best ten countries while the worst ten countries are in Africa.
For Malawi, 37 per cent of children under-five years of age are stunted, representing about a million children in the country while 15 per cent of school-age children [primary and secondary] are out of school and 37 per cent of its children are still engaged in child labour; according to the report.
It adds that at least 700 million children across the globe (a quarter of the world’s children) have their childhood ended too soon.
It reads in part: “Children are left behind in most development initiatives simply because of the choices we make either by classifying them because of who they are or where they live; thereby depriving them of a childhood for them to grow to their fullest potential.”