Four in ten adults worldwide claim their childhoods blighted by discrimination

Almost 40 per cent of adults worldwide were discriminated against as children because of their gender, ethnicity or religion, a disability or simply because of where they live, a new global survey in 18 countries on discrimination by Save the Children has revealed.

As a result, almost half (49 per cent) say their access to education was adversely affected, and just over one-third (35 per cent) were unable to access critical health services.

The new poll – which involved over 18,000 people across the globe – is the largest of its kind undertaken by the aid organisation, and tracks for the first time in its history the impact that discrimination has on life chances.

In a snapshot of worsening discrimination globally, it found:

  • 56 per cent of respondents claimed that, over the last 20 years, discrimination against children had not improved in their country. Thirty-six per cent responded that it had, in fact, worsened;
  • Regionally, those polled in Africa reported the highest levels of discrimination in their childhood (58 per cent);
  • Nearly half of all people surveyed in Asia (45 per cent) say they faced discrimination when they were children.

The findings support the organisation’s latest report, which reveals that while progress has been made in reaching the world’s poorest children, those from discriminated groups are consistently overlooked, despite being the most at risk – and the threat to their futures is only getting worse.

“Every last child” reveals that these children are discriminated against because of geography, their gender or ethnicity, a disability or because they are victims of conflict.

“Many countries are deliberately failing to gather data on excluded children, making it hard to paint a complete picture – yet our experience working in 120 countries worldwide tells us that discrimination is increasingly the largest threat to the poorest children today,” says Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO, Save the Children International.

“At its worst, this discrimination is deadly. Of the 16,000 children still dying each day from preventable causes, a disproportionate number are from these excluded groups.”

“It is not an accident that discrimination is preventing some of the most vulnerable children from accessing life-saving services – these children are being systematically left out by design or neglect.”