Brazil can be a global champion for early years care

A mother receives her vaccination schedule instructions for her three-month-old daughter in the Colônia Antônio Aleixo neighbourhood of Manaus, Brazil. (© UNICEF/UN0846755/Érico Hiller)

Organisations including Theirworld are urging President Lula da Silva to spotlight the need for increased investment in young children during his country’s presidency of the G20.

Brazil is set to take over the presidency of the G20 – and campaigners are calling on President Lula da Silva to champion the world’s youngest children.

Dozens of organisations, including Theirworld, the LEGO Foundation and International Rescue Committee, want Brazil to use its 2024 leadership to encourage increased investment by governments in early years care and education.

As part of the Act For Early Years campaign, an open letter to President Lula da Silva has been created by Theirworld and ECDAN (Early Childhood Development Action Network), together with Brazilian climate campaigner Amanda da Cruz Costa.

Oganisations who have signed include several Brazilian non-profits such as Fundação Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal.

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Brazil has been a strong advocate for children’s rights and investing in early childhood development policies and programmes. Now it has a huge opportunity to persuade others during its presidency of the G20, which wields immense influence on global policy and economic matters.

More than half of all young children are missing out on crucial childcare and pre-primary education – deepening inequality and impacting their future chances in life.

Ben Hewitt, Theirworld’s Senior Campaigns Advisor, said: “We are facing a global early years crisis where more than half of the world’s young children are missing out on the childcare and preschool they urgently need.

“Brazil is a strong supporter of child rights, recognises the importance of early childhood development and has invested in expanding access to quality preschool education and childcare services.

Watch Amanda da Costa talk about education

“We are calling on President Lula da Silva to revitalise the G20 Initiative for Early Childhood Development and support new commitments that prioritise investment in the early years.”

The G20 initiative was agreed in 2018 – but new targets for action are needed. Early years care is still woefully underfunded across the world.

Brazil takes over the G20 presidency on December 1 and has set a vision of “building a fair world and a sustainable planet”. Early years care is vital in that mission – it’s when the building blocks for a prosperous and equitable future for everyone are laid.

Existing gender norms also mean the brunt of the global childcare crisis is falling on women. The high cost or lack of availability of early years support is the main reason why they leave the workforce, sometimes never to return.

As well as the impact on women and their families, businesses lose valuable employees, economies lose productivity and tax revenues decline.

What is the G20?

The Group of 20 is a forum of some of the world’s major economies – it includes 19 countries, the European Union and the African Union. Each year, the G20 president is responsible for the agenda, in consultation with other members, and in response to developments in the global economy.

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