Urban inequality is a global issue
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Make every child in your city count
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Why U-Kid?

The experience of childhood is increasingly urban. Over half the world’s people – including more than a billion children – now live in cities and towns.

For the first time in history, the global population is becoming increasingly urban. This shift is causing us to rethink our cities, and to reconsider our collective roles and responsibilities, as well as those of our leaders. For city leaders, this can be a huge opportunity. It means more growth. More economic opportunity. More human capital. It also means new and competing challenges.


Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), Population Division special updated estimates of urban population as of October 2011, consistent with World Population Prospects: The 2010 revision and World Urbanization Prospects: The 2009 revision. Graphic presentation of data based on The Guardian, 27 July 2007.   This map is stylized and based on an approximate scale. It does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimination of any frontiers.  Notes: Because of the cession in July 2011 of the Republic of South Sudan by the Republic of the Sudan, and its subsequent admission to the United nations on 14 July 2011, data for the Sudan and South Sudan as separate States are not yet available. Data presented are for the Sudan pre-cession. Data for China do not include Hong Kong and Macao, Special Administrative Regions of China. Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China as of 1 July 1997; Macao became a SAR of China as of 20 December 1999. Data for France do not include French Gulana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte and Reunion. Data for the Netherlands do not include the Netherlands Antilles. Data for the United States of America do not include Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.



While cities provide a multitude of opportunities for people, old and young – they are also home to some of the greatest inequalities. A city’s most vulnerable and often underserved group – its children – are also its greatest source of potential.

Consider this: Within a single city, the infant mortality rate can be three times higher in poorer households. Some children get more than 12 years of education, while others get less than 4. In some cities, as seen in the graphic below, the urban poor average less years of schooling than even their poorest rural counterparts. Overcrowding and high admission costs leave the poorest urban children unable to even access their city’s hospitals and schools.

Large numbers of urban children—especially those living in slums— are often not counted in official statistics, leaving insufficient data for city leaders to make informed decisions. Moreover, urban population densities are unevenly distributed globally, with the highest growth rates in Asian and African cities.

Children shape our cities, and our cities shape our children.

This is more than a mere demographic shift – it is poised to be one of the defining themes of the coming century. City leaders and communities that are best prepared for this shift will be in a position to affect positive and lasting change. As cities grow larger and more complex, city leaders will need new tools, technologies, and ideas to make lasting and measurable improvements.


Join with UNICEF and pledge to make every child in your city count.



Urban Index

Children born into existing urban populations account for approximately 60 per cent of urban growth, and it is estimated that 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050.

Cities are also sites where global challenges are often more pronounced: climate change, poverty, food insecurity, financial crises, unemployment, and conflict. The direct and cumulative effects of these challenges often impact the lives of children the most acutely.


Detailed standardized data on the conditions for children in cities is often lacking. Established indices of development focus on country-level data, and frequently overlook key urban indicators. Comparable city-level indices that focus on children and human development are virtually non-existent (GCIF, 2013).

In response to the need for solutions for children in urban environments, UNICEF has developed the U-KID Urban Index. Created in partnership with the Global City Indicators Facility (GCIF), it is the first truly global, multi-dimensional, data-driven index to measure cities’ performance on key indicators for children: Healthcare, Sanitation, Safety, Education, Social Equity, Quality of Life.

Click here to learn more about U-KID.


The U-KID Urban Index will be accessible through an interactive data platform that:


Provides a way for cities to monitor and analyse performance; and, view and interact with data visualizations to understand how their city fares across key areas and/or compares to other cities;


Allows mayors to pledge to make concrete improvements in areas affecting the most disadvantaged urban children;


Provides access to a global forum for ‘DIY’ solutions, best practices, and global collaboration.


U-KID is intended to help city leaders improve their communities, and allow one city to learn from another. The final result will be real and measurable results in cities across the globe.

With better tools in place, we can build a more equitable and sustainable urban future for our children.


The U-KID Urban Index is a global tool that allows cities to measure their performance for children and take steps towards improving their lives, while also improving their city index score. If you are a city leader committed to making measurable improvements for children in cities, please join us in taking action.


Pledging to adopt U-Kid is a promise to your city, and to your city’s children. It is a promise that their potential will not go unmet, and that they will have the resources they need to make themselves — and their city — great.

Do you want your city to pledge to join U-KID? Sign up here!











How would you improve your city for children?



Disclaimer: By signing the pledge you agree to disclose your name on the site and the use of your name and contact information by UNICEF and GCIF for any follow-up with you.


For city leaders:


U-KID Pledge


    • “I recognize that 1.2 billion children currently live in cities globally, and many of them suffer from poverty and exclusion. Lack of data on the urban poor contributes to their invisibility in decision-making and urban policies.”


    • “I acknowledge that accurately counting these children and measuring their well-being is the first step in improving their lives. By making these children visible we can begin to address their needs and improve their future and the future of our cities.”


    • “By joining the U-KID movement, I pledge to make public my city’s data on key indicators for children and receive a score and global ranking against other comparable cities.”


    • “Based on the results of my index score I pledge to identify areas of improvement as well as achievement, and to raise my city’s score on at least one sub-index over the course of the 2-year evaluation cycle.”


    • “I agree that together we can make the invisible visible and create a brighter urban future.”


  • “I pledge to make every child in my city count.”


If you want to sign the pledge on behalf of your city government, please email us.