Child Gauge 2012 shines spotlight on inequality and poverty

24 October 2012 | Story by Newsroom

Being a child in South Africa can be trying. No fewer than 60% of children in South Africa live in poor households, where the income is less than R575 per person per month.

Trevor Manuel Katharine Hall
Two sides of the same coin: Trevor Manuel, minister in the presidency, and Katharine Hall, one of the authors of the Child Gauge 2012, agreed that it was not good enough to identify poverty and inequality as serious perils facing South African children today, but that solutions need to be found to address these problems.

These are some of the stark facts highlighted in the South African Child Gauge 2012, released on 17 October by UCT's Children's Institute (CI), in partnership with the United Nations Children's Fund and UCT's Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, or SALDRU. This seventh issue of the annual review of the situation of South Africa's children focuses on Children and inequality: Closing the gap, as children are more affected by poverty and income inequality, which impact on their survival, development and life trajectories.

"South Africa's children have equal rights under the Constitution, but the worlds into which they are born and their opportunities in life are unequal," explains Katharine Hall, senior researcher at the CI. She warned that the rates of inequality are likely to persist into the next generation, and called on policy-makers to move beyond a one-size-fits-all approach when formulating policies and programmes to address inequality.

Trevor Manuel, minister in the presidency and keynote speaker at the launch, praised the report for identifying the problems affecting children. He stressed that it is more important to determine what could be done about these problems.

"It is important to remember that children do not experience poverty and inequality in the same way as adults," he said. "Children growing up in poorer households don't only experience hunger, but the lack of nutrition impacts on their general health, on their ability to concentrate at school and their ability to excel at sport. These forms of deprivation are likely to have a long-lasting impact on the quality of life of that child as an adult."

Other speakers at the event included Lindiwe Mokate, children's commissioner for the South African Human Rights Commission; and George Laryea-Adjei, deputy representative of UNICEF, South Africa.

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