Caption: Daw Nyo is showing off the birth certificate of his son joyfully. Kyaw now owns a life with record and a legal document to access education.
Take an issue like human trafficking. Human traffickers like people who will not be missed. They like people who are vulnerable and powerless. Without a birth certificate, men, women and children are an easy target for traffickers. The things you lose out on when you don’t have a birth certificate reads like a trafficker’s check list.
Lack of education. Check. Unable to open a bank account and needing money? Check. Someone in poor health and unable to get healthcare? Check. Someone separated from their family with no way to reunite them? Check. You can’t identify what age the girl is so she’s easier to marry? It goes on and on.
Without registration, it makes it that much harder to get a sick, exploited, abused or neglected child back on track.
Birth registration is a simple, yet effective solution for decreasing the vulnerability of children and increasing the effectiveness of foreign aid. The more governments that implement a streamlined birth registration system, the better they will be able to provide for their own citizens. The more governments provide for and support their citizens, the less money will be needed to support governments with weak, inefficient or non-existent safety nets for children.
Often, birth registration falls down the list of a country’s priorities. A birth certificate is so simple, it’s easy to be overlooked or to be allowed to languish. Sometimes all that’s needed is a nudge or support from other governments or organizations to help create a functioning, vibrant birth registration system.
Just last week, we signed our son up for preschool. What was the first thing the school asked for (other than a cheque)? A copy of his birth certificate. It’s so simple, yet so vital and every child deserves to walk through the doors that a birth certificate can open.
Jesse Eaves is a senior policy advisor for child protection at World Vision.
Koh Andaet Community, Cambodia, Asia