Pakistan’s Sindh Province is receiving a new birth registration system from partners UNICEF and Telenor Pakistan to provide digital identity to children and teenagers across the province.
The Digital Birth Registration (DBR) system has already been used to deliver credentials to an estimated 1.8 million children across Pakistan, and has operated successfully in three districts in Sindh on a pilot basis. The program’s operation has now been transferred to the Sindh Government.
The system is designed to register anyone under 17 for a digital identity, but with a particular focus on children below 5 years old. Providing them with identity eases their access to education, healthcare, and basic human rights protections, according to the report.
By bringing birth registration to remote areas, the program is intended not only to improve registration coverage, but do so without imposing time and cost burdens on parents.
“A birth registration certificate, as a legal document with proof of age, helps to prevent violations of the rights of the child, including such phenomena as child labour, the recruitment and use of child soldier, early marriage, trafficking, and statelessness,” comments UNICEF Sindh Field Office Chief Clara Dube, invoking United National Sustainable Development Goal 16.9. “Birth registration is important for girl child for protection from the early marriage and the enforcement of laws that set a minimum age for marriage.”
“Digital Birth Registration started out as an idea of how we could use technology to give children their fundamental right to an identity,” says Telenor Group VP of Sustainability and Partnerships Zainab Hussain Siddiqui. “Today the project is set to take on a larger scale, helping more children access their right to a future. This progress has been possible thanks to strong collaboration with our global partner UNICEF and the support and engagement of relevant government agencies. It is a great example of the positive impact we can create together by using technology for social good.”
Pakistan is in the midst of several digital identity and inclusion initiatives, including the launch of mobile digital wallets earlier this month.
UNICEF said two years ago that birth registration will need to repeat a significant jump to reach the 2030 goal of the SDG, with 166 million children around the world estimated to be unregistered, as of late-2019.