Pakistan is the second largest country in South Asia, having a coastline along the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman in the south, and shares borders with India to the east, Afghanistan to the west, Iran to the southwest, and China to the northeast. It is the fifth most populous country in the world with a population of more than 200 million. The capital city Islamabad is home to over 1 million people. Social changes have led to urbanization and emergence of megacities, however, the urbanization rate remains one of the lowest in the world, with almost 65% of the population living in rural areas.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Pakistan since the 1960s.
Pakistan still has one of the worst forms of child labour which includes hazardous work. It is estimated that 90% of Pakistan’s carpet industry’s workforce are children under the age of 14 years. Child labour deprives children of their childhood, education and health and hinder their development. The effects of child labour both on physical and mental health often turn into long-term health issues due to injuries, physical and mental abuse, malnutrition and exposure to chemicals.
It is estimated that in Pakistan almost 23 million (44%) children aged 5-16 are not attending school, making it one of the countries with the highest number of out of school children in the world. Many Pakistani families simply cannot afford to send their children to school. Girls are less likely to attend or finish school than boys, and their education often suffers further due to early marriage.
Approximately 150,000 Pakistani children die from treatable diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea every year. 75% of newborn deaths in Pakistan are caused by preventable medical conditions like complications during delivery or treatable infections. Many families, in particular from low-income households and rural areas, cannot afford or do not have access to quality health care, clean water and a healthy nutrition. Children who grow up in poverty and do not have access to health care are more likely to develop long-term physical and mental health issues.