How does birth registration support child protection in emergencies?
Child protection is defined as “the prevention of and response to abuse, neglect, exploitation, and violence against children”. Child protection actors have an important role to play in promoting and supporting BRiE. This is because of their existing engagements with vulnerable children and their parents/caregivers, as well as the vital role birth registration plays in the prevention of, and response to child protection in emergencies.
In emergencies, unregistered children are amongst the most vulnerable. They are unaccounted for, untraceable, and therefore often unassisted. A birth certificate clearly states a child’s age, the location of their birth, and the names of their legal guardians (parents/caregivers). This crucial information provides the documented evidence that can prevent a child from marrying, stop a child being trafficked within and/or across borders, avert a child being sentence as an adult, or ensure a child is not recruited into armed forces.
A birth certificate proves that an individual is in fact below 18 years of age and therefore permitted to certain protections under National and International law. A birth certificate helps a child claim their right to protection and supports the prosecution of child abuses cases.
A birth certificate enables unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) to be reunified with their parents/caregivers more efficiently and effectively, reducing the likelihood of exposure to further harm. A birth certificate also provides documented proof of parentage, important for obtaining nationality and claiming inheritance rights.
In addition to child protection, health (particularly maternal and child health) and education sectors play a vital role in promoting and supporting BRiE. Maternal and child health actors (e.g birth attendants/midwives) are mandated to provide birth notifications and have regular interactions with pregnant and lactating women and girls. Education also plays a vital role as unregistered children can be denied access to education in many contexts and school enrolment is reported as one of the biggest motivations for parents to register their children.
It is important to remember that BRiE sits across the entire humanitarian response as all humanitarian actors benefit from universal birth registration and accurate vital statistics. Without accurate and continuous population data, it is difficult for governments and humanitarian agencies to plan and measure the impact of their humanitarian response.
Watch this Plan International video to hear first hand stories of how birth registration has promoted the protection of girls, boys, and women in Uganda.