Highly Vulnerable Children

Heart iconGet the facts about social issues in developing countries and how they affect children and their families.

Poverty is a complex issue. Gender inequality, high birth rates, violence, conflict and human rights violations are a few of the many social issues faced by children living in developing countries.

Compassion-assisted children have a chance to confront the social issues in their lives. Sponsored children receive education, health care and vocational training to help them escape the cycle of poverty and overcome social obstacles.

“Few can understand the worsening plight of families in developing countries more than those who are rising above it. And who better to defeat these societal ills than those who have lived through it?”
— Wess Stafford, Compassion President Emeritus

With the right resources, many of these facts about social issues can be easily addressed and overcome.

  • The top 1 percent of the global wealth distribution holds 46 percent of the world’s wealth. 1
  • By 2050, the world’s population is projected to be 66 percent urban. 1
  • Boy pointing towards city
  • By 2030, the world is projected to have 41 mega-cities with more than 10 million inhabitants. 1
  • Some 880 million people live in slums, and nearly 40 percent of the world’s future urban expansion may occur in slums. 1
  • At the end of 2015 more than 65 million people worldwide had been forcibly displaced . . . more than the population of France. 1
  • Every minute an average of 24 people are displaced from their home. 1
  • About 15 million girls a year marry before age 18, one every two seconds. 1
  • More than 21.3 million people—roughly the population of Australia—are refugees. 1
  • Globally women hold only 22 percent of the seats in parliament, 26 percent of the seats on the highest courts and 18 percent of ministerial positions. 1
“To overcome the plagues of our world today — poverty, disease, injustice — we need leaders who are fully equipped with a quality education, yet walk the path of Christ.”
— Wess Stafford, Compassion President Emeritus

Margaret Makhoha, a Compassion alumnae, became a member of the Ugandan parliament in 2011.

  • 200 million women and girls living today have undergone female genital mutilation. 1
  • Globally, as many as 38 percent of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner. 2
  • 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. 2
  • 79 percent of all detected trafficking victims are women and children. 3
  • There has been a nearly tenfold increase in deaths from violent extremism and terrorism since 2000—from 3,329 victims to 32,685 in 2014. 1
  • Across 96 countries, around 1 billion children ages 2 to 17 experienced some form of violence in the past year. 5
  • Globally women earn 24 percent less than men and hold only 25 percent of administrative and managerial positions in the business world. 2
  • 18 countries required a woman to have her husband’s approval to get a job. 1
  • Rural women make up around 43 percent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries.4
  • More than 250 million people worldwide face discrimination solely on the basis of caste or inherited status. 1

How Do the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Relate to Compassion?

Students looking through window and smilingThe UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) directly parallel what Compassion does. But when it comes to goals and implementation we sometimes take a different approach. This is a quick analysis of the SDGs and how they most closely match our work, along with ways they overlap and differ.

Learn More >


1 UNDP. Human Development Report 2016. Human Development for Everyone.

2 World Health Organization Media Centre Fact sheet N°239. Violence Against Women, November 2016.

3 UNODC, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2016 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.16.IV.6).

4 FAO, 2016 The State of Food and Agriculture.

5 UNESCO, 2016 Global Education Monitoring Report Gender Review: Creating Sustainable Futures for All.