This November, more than one thousand policy makers, researchers, teachers, practitioners, funders, and other early childhood development stakeholders converged in Tashkent, Uzbekistan for the World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education. Discussions at the UNESCO-hosted event concentrated on ways to accelerate progress on SDG 4.2—ensuring by 2030 that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education—and culminated with adoption of the Tashkent Declaration, which sets the global agenda for early childhood care and education through the year 2030.
It was an exciting moment where we had the opportunity to discuss complicated issues, learn from promising practices and innovative ideas, and build meaningful partnerships while a range of stakeholders discussed commitments to increase access to quality early child development policies and services. During the week, I was involved in a number of conversations on childcare. One of the fundamental questions we discussed went something like this:
Given the socio-economic impact that childcare can provide and its relevance to so many families across the globe, why isn’t it a policy priority for more countries?
From my perspective as an advocate, the answer is fairly obvious – childcare is not seen as a political issue, and it lacks the political support and public demand necessary to secure concrete policy commitments from government. There are many reasons childcare is not on many governments’ agendas as a core policy priority, but until it is, achieving SDG 4.2 – and specifically, access to quality childcare – will be out of reach for many of the world’s families.
Mobilizing the public and political support that is necessary will require short- and long-term planning, integrated and coordinated advocacy and communications strategies, and community engagement. Only then will we begin to build the political momentum necessary to secure quality childcare access for every child who needs it.
So, how do we collectively make childcare a higher priority for governments? We advocate; we build coalitions; we organize and mobilize; and we listen to the needs of parents and childcare workers, ensuring policy makers hear them as well. We know this will not be easy, but collectively, we must invest time and resources in advocacy if we hope to achieve real policy progress.
Sustained, coordinated advocacy campaigns are not easy to plan and implement. They also require funding. If we hope to truly make childcare a global policy priority and to achieve the commitments made in the Tashkent Declaration, more funding is needed to support national advocacy campaigns that are led by civil society. Efforts to elevate childcare as a global policy priority and secure new commitments and investments must be complemented with grassroots advocacy at the country-level to build the necessary political will and mobilize public demand. Only then can we hope to achieve childcare for all.
Through our new blog series, we will highlight the work happening around the globe on childcare. We’ll hear from childcare practitioners about their challenges and needs, unpack advocacy strategies, share case studies from partners, promote new research and evidence, and learn from childcare champions about what is needed to make quality childcare accessible to all who need it.
About the Childcare for All Campaign
Through the Childcare for All Campaign, we seek to increase awareness, political commitment, and financing to strengthen policies that expand access to affordable, quality childcare. Join us to learn more.
For more questions on the initiative, please reach out to:
Global Policy and Advocacy Lead, ECDAN