Despite continued efforts by governments, civil society and international organisations around the world, around 290 million children - 45% of all children under age 5 worldwide - do not possess a birth certificate.*
Traditional approaches have not been successful in achieving universal birth registration and there is an urgent need to start working differently to ensure that every child in the world has access to a birth certificate to help protect their rights.
Innovative global partnerships
Plan International has established the Birth Registration Innovation Team (BRIT) to investigate innovative ways to support governments in increasing birth registration rates and strengthen civil registration and vital statistics systems in a scalable and sustainable way.
The project is a collaboration between Plan International and Accenture and has input from organisations as diverse as OAS, UNECA, UNESCAP, and IDRC. The partnership aims to provide tools and guidance that will support governments and other actors involved in birth registration, in a user-friendly way, to find new solutions that will ensure children around the world's rights are protected.
Defending children’s rights
The right to birth registration is enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that “every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name and a nationality." Despite this, more than 100 countries lack the capacity to track major life events such as births and marriages.
Birth registration is both a response and prevention tool for ending child marriage.
In developing countries, it's estimated that 1 in 3 girls are married before reaching age 18.* Child marriage is a violation of a child’s rights, which also frequently results in the denial of other human rights, such as the right to an education. In addition, girls in many parts of the world are removed from school on or soon after their wedding day, making them less likely to learn about their rights in the first place.*
Birth registration is both a response and prevention tool for ending child marriage. A birth certificate constitutes undisputable proof of age and is an essential means to enforce minimum age marriage laws.
Birth registration could help end child marriage
Having a birth certificate helped Rubi from Bangladesh protect her rights. When she was younger, she had been denied access to primary school because her parents hadn't registered her at birth. So her mother helped her get a birth certificate and she was admitted to the school - where she thrived. However, when she turned 15, her father planned for her to get married to help the family financially.
Rubi, however, is intelligent and ambitious and did not want to get married in her teens or curtail her education. So she found advocates in her teachers and Plan International who supported her in approaching the Union Council Office.
There, the chairman informed her parents about the legal ramifications of child marriage. She was too young to marry and her birth certificate proved it. So Rubi re-enrolled at school and went on to graduate at 18.
Helping children learn, lead, decide and thrive
Plan International strives to ensure vulnerable children like Rubi can learn, lead, decide and thrive. Her story illustrates just how important a birth certificate is to achieving these goals.
To help protect the rights of children like Rubi we must constantly innovate and improve our methods towards achieving universal birth registration - because every child counts and must be counted.
* Plan International is not responsible for the content of other sites