This indicator assesses the extent of registration of children. Orphans without proof of birth lack the essential protection that stems from this legal form of identity. Proof of lineage is critical for orphans in order to inherit the property of deceased parents. In general, birth registration is the first step towards recognizing a child’s inalienable rights as a human being. Without proof of birth, children are especially vulnerable to exploitation and abuse and as adults may be denied the rights of a citizen. In some countries, children without a birth certificate cannot receive vaccinations or enrol in school; as adults, they cannot get married, open a bank account, acquire a passport or vote.
Birth registration is also critical to the functioning of every nation. Every government requires accurate data on births. Countries that have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international human rights agreements are committed to registering children at birth. National birth registration systems provide vital data countries need for planning and policy development, for monitoring the situation of children and allocating resources.
It is not necessary to disaggregate the information by orphan status, since birth registration is critical for all children. The registration of children usually should take place long before a child is likely to have been orphaned. Thus there is no need to compare the proportion registered by orphans versus non-orphans. Registration of orphans is probably higher in some settings because children are being registered in response to having become an orphan.
Beside the overall percentage of children that are registered information should be provided on the proportion that actually possess such a certificate. As well as identifying the extent of the problem of non-registration, two additional questions are recommended to identify obstacles to registration and knowledge of the registration process among those caretakers whose children are not registered.