In the course of the discussions on inequality in this E-Forum, some references have been made to the need for a focus on the disproportionate impacts of poverty and inequality on children. [Notably, 03/15/13: "Inequality and the next development framework" - Nuria Molina - Save the Children; and 07/02/13: 'Equity for Children's Comments on the High Level Panel for the Post-2015 Development Agenda" - Alberto Minujin - Equity for Children]. These contributions are indeed of critical importance for the formulation of a post-2015 paradigm on sustainable development and the world we want for the future. Consideration of social outcomes for children, our future, must be at the heart of the discourse on the world we want.
Supporting and strengthening the care environment in which children are raised must become an explicit and critical piece of the post-2015 development paradigm. This important policy message is now gaining ground within the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, as evidenced by the interest generated by a UNICEF-sponsored side event on the theme of Early Childhood Development as a Foundation for Sustainable Development which was held recently at the UN, during the 6th Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (9-13 December, 2013).
Of relevance to this discussion is a joint UNICEF-ILO advocacy research initiative in which I was involved, and which resulted in the production of a Working Paper that was launched at the Coordination Segment of the 2013 Substantive Session of ECOSOC in Geneva, in July. The Working Paper is entitled Supporting Workers with Family Responsibilities - Connecting child development and the decent work agenda, and is available on the ILO website by clicking on the hyperlink. The Paper addresses policy makers, and aims to identify the critical linkages between the care environment and the social wellbeing of children.
The Paper emphasizes the importance of incorporating work/family balance considerations into development policies. It highlights the need for two-generational, gender-equitable, solutions that support parents' needs for decent jobs, relieve the burden of women's disproportionate involvement in unpaid family care compared to men, and cater to children's needs in terms of quality care and holistic development.
Policy recommendations include a range of mechanisms to achieve this:
· Family-friendly services for maternal and childcare which, at the same time, promote women's equal opportunity and treatment in labour markets;
· Workplace measures that ensure adequate and accessible maternity protection;
· Sustained investments in early childhood care and development through strengthened health delivery systems, nutrition and food security, parenting support, child care facilities and early learning programs, while ensuring affordable access by all, and special outreach to low-income households;
· Quality programming for the achievement of the Education for All (EFA) goals at pre-school and primary levels, as well as a focus on adequate achievement levels for secondary and post- secondary education and skills development;
· Active labour market policies that prioritize a smooth school-to-work transition for young people.
In this regard, universal social protection floors are of special relevance. They constitute equality enablers; they provide an over-arching policy framework in support of measures such as those listed above, to assist working families and their children throughout the life cycle.
International Consultant| Global Labour, Gender, Migration & Development; Former ITUC Representative to the UN. firstname.lastname@example.org|