He insisted in the course of his parliamentary appearance that we are facing a decisive decade. Why?
There were two presentations, one focused on child poverty and the other on the 2030 Agenda. It was about transferring the presentations of the work with the deputies at the Monitoring Table of the Canary Islands Pact for Children. When he referred to a decisive decade, he was referring to the 2030 Agenda. The Agenda began its journey in September 2015, inspired by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Between 2020 and 2030 there are great challenges to achieve compliance with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 2030 Agenda is the responsibility of everyone, developed and developing countries, so even autonomous governments have their obligations. We have ten years to ensure that we take steps and that we achieve a high percentage of what has been committed. It will be a decisive decade.
Is defending and protecting children key on the path to reducing inequality and poverty?
One of the issues that is absolutely key is the reduction in levels of inequality and child poverty rates. Both are aspects in which Spain and the Canary Islands must make some efforts. The Committee on the Rights of the Child, which assesses the development of the application of the Convention in the signatory states, stipulates this in its follow-up reports. More action is needed. In the Canary Islands, child poverty rates are still worrying and are far from the state average.
He has recommended a series of measures to alleviate this poverty in Canarian childhood.
We propose measures such as child support, a formula that could reduce child poverty. It’s about ensuring that the levels are getting lower and lower; This is part of the SDGs and must be on local agendas. From Unicef we work, both at the state and regional level, to provide specific proposals to combat child poverty. From the application of the Minimum Vital Income (IMV) at the state level or the approval of the Canary Islands Citizenship Income Law, which includes measures to combat poverty with specific proposals aimed at families with dependent children.
How has the organization and the problems of childhood in the Canary Islands, in general, evolved in recent years?
Unicef Spain has made great efforts to make childhood visible on the local and state political agenda. In the last ten years, emphasis has been placed on those specific issues of childhood and adolescence through the publication of reports, studies or analysis of their reality. Unicef Canarias has published two regional reports, which analyze aspects such as education, child poverty, resource endowment or protection system. But studies at the state level also focus part of their work objective in the Canary Islands: the influence of ICTs on adolescents, protection or immigration status. Since 2014 we have a monitoring tool for political processes and decisions related to childhood and adolescence in the Archipelago: the Canary Islands Pact for Children. It is not only about a commitment signed by a wide spectrum of public institutions but also about setting each one a roadmap on which to work and to improve the situation through political decisions and concrete actions. One of the proposals is the Study Group held this past year in Parliament; It has allowed us to obtain more information, learn about specialized proposals and make more informed decisions. It was necessary and we bet that it was done since the previous legislature. We also monitor other issues related to the approval of a new Childhood and Adolescence Law in the Canary Islands or the budget analysis in terms of childhood to assess the investment made and detect areas for improvement.
“In the Canary Islands, child poverty is worrying and is still far from the state average”
At what point are the rights of children in our Archipelago?
This type of work mentioned allows us, precisely, to assess how the mental health of our children is doing; what happens with school dropouts or how we can improve access to education for children aged 0 to 3 years. Issues that have to do with the right to health or education. Some have improved and others still need greater commitment and resource endowment, as well as better coordination between areas, to make decisions more effective.
The pandemic and its effects on the children of the Islands.
This is one of the current issues that most concerns us. Unicef Spain has made an analysis of the possible effects of the pandemic on children and adolescents at the state level, Vulnerable childhood in Spain: risks and political responses to the Covid-19 crisis. This document talks about the impact on material well-being, education, health or protection. It seems essential, in the first place, to identify the most vulnerable socioeconomic profiles, those most likely to suffer the consequences of the crisis. More distance is needed to assess its effect in greater detail, but we have found that those under 18 years of age have been the most affected by poverty above the rest of the population. This is applicable in the Islands, where poverty levels already started at a worrying figure and family income is also affected by the economic crisis in the tourism sector on which we depend to a greater percentage. The Government of the Canary Islands is now carrying out a study that evaluates the impact of Covid on Children and Adolescents.
It has offered very worrying global data. Value them.
We only have these data at the regional level –34% of child poverty; 18.32% early school leaving; 35% overweight or 1,367 cases of suspected abuse. It is very difficult to get them to the island or municipal. We work in coordination with the Istac and the General Directorate for the Protection of Children and the Family to try to verify the information as much as possible. Having the data will allow us to be more efficient in the design of public policies. We must try to land with our analysis at all levels.
What balance do you make as president of Unicef Canarias?
It has been a difficult and intense period. Taking on this role at such a difficult time has made it an arduous task. However, digital communication has facilitated many procedures, it has allowed us to be more agile and even closer in intensity. Special mention for the work with the Parliament of the Canary Islands. We have found a team with a lot of will and interest in not stopping things and with an extraordinary drive in the proposed objectives. Also with other public administrations. Without forgetting the work with allies in the Child Friendly Cities initiative, with whom we were able to celebrate the IV Autonomous Children’s Participation Meeting of the Canary Islands, in digital format, and create the CAI Canarias platform to give visibility to the actions. The balance is positive due to the work and the objectives achieved, but also due to the satisfaction of having people who fight so that the guarantee of children’s rights in the Canary Islands continues to be a priority objective on the local and regional political agenda.