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No child left unaccounted: protecting a child with a certificate of birth

A woman holds a new Chinese birth certificate provided for a newborn baby.

A young baby is registered and provided with a new birth certificate in China.

Every year, the world keeps getting bigger and bigger. Today, our global population has reached a staggering 7 billion with no sign of slowing.

With more children entering this world every day, ensuring their protection becomes a challenging reality. In fact, 230 million children under the age of 5 have not had their births registered, and more than 100 developing countries do not have functioning systems that support efficient public birth registration.

That means millions of young children are living life without a birth certificate.

A record of life and a document to protect

Birth registration is crucial to the health, safety and well-being of every child. Children that go unregistered are at greater risk of exclusion. For example, in Vietnam, children need a birth certificate in order to access health care services or to enroll in school. In Kenya, children require a birth certificate to take national exams in school.

For every child, a birth certificate provides access to their essential human rights. It grants them with a personal identity, and it’s a child’s link to education, health care and protection from abuse and exploitation.

Global birth registration rates:

  • Latin American and Caribbean – 92%
  • Middle East and North Africa – 87%
  • Sub-Saharan Africa – 44%
  • South Asia – 39%

Source: UNICEF

When an emergency strikes, a birth certificate is all that matters. But without proof of identity, a child is invisible to the authorities. Therefore, unregistered children are at greater risk of abuse, exploitation, violence and neglect, especially during disaster or emergency. No birth certificate can even make it difficult for children to receive critical aid.

Plan’s impact on the world’s invisible children

We work in 36 developing countries around the world to help provide birth registration for vulnerable children. Since 2005, Plan has helped register 40 million children and influenced the laws in 10 countries so that 153 million more can enjoy their rights to a birth certificate.

A baby’s finger prints being taken for his birth certificate in Thailand.

A newborn baby is registered at a Plan-supported registration centre in Thailand.

Plan is calling for a greater investment in effective, rights-based registration systems in developing countries. We’re also working with national governments in an attempt to make birth registration free and accessible so all children can be registered as soon after their birth as possible.

You can help provide children with the identity they deserve.