Monday, July 27, 2009

Peter Townsend: April 6, 1928 - June 7, 2009

[From UNICEF's Press Center]

Professor Peter Townsend, a champion for children everywhere, passed away on 7 June 2009. Until his life’s end, Professor Townsend sustained his outrage at the inequalities in the world, inequalities that condemn millions of children to suffer deprivations that violate their basic rights to survival and development. He advocated fiercely and continuously for the right of every child, whether from a poor country or a rich country, to social security and an adequate standard of living. He used his considerable intellect to research innovative sources of financing for a universal child benefit—a grant for all children everywhere—and seized every opportunity to press the measure as both morally just and economically feasible.

In the course of his life, Professor Townsend influenced many people and institutions, but the research he led, with David Gordon of Bristol University, Child Poverty in the Developing World, (2003) transformed the way UNICEF and many of its partners both understood and measured the poverty suffered by children. This innovative method of measuring deprivations: the extent to which a child is unable to realize his or her fundamental rights to health, food, education, water, sanitation, shelter and information, has exposed policy-makers all over the world to a new understanding of child poverty and inequalities. As a consequence, children are more visible in poverty reduction policies and debates. UNICEF’s Global Study on Child Poverty and Disparities, has been inspired to a large extent by Professor Townsend’s work.

For more on Peter Townsend and his work:

•University of Bristol. List of Peter Townsend Publications 1948 - 2003
•D. Gordon, S. Nandy, C. Pantazis, S. Pemberton and P. Townsend (2003). Child Poverty in the Developing World. UK: The Policy Press
•UNDP in Focus (2004). Children and Poverty
London School of Economics tribute to Peter Townsend
The Guardian Obituary