Belstat and UNICEF presented findings of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) in Belarus
Presentation of the outcomes of the sixth round of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey on the Situation of Children and Women (MICS 6) in the Republic of Belarus took place today as a round table conference. The survey was conducted in 2019 by the experts of the National Statistical Committee of the Republic of Belarus (Belstat) under the umbrella of the International Technical Assistance (ITA) project financed by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the European Union, the World Bank, the Government of the Russian Federation, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
MICS is a global initiative of UNICEF, and it is one of the largest international household survey programs.
— We are pleased to note that the Government of Belarus pays great attention to studying the situation of children and adolescents in different dimensions, which is one of the most important items in the UNICEF Country Partnership Programme for Belarus, — said Rashed Mustafa Sarwar, UNICEF Representative in Belarus. — MICS is the largest survey on children and women in the world. The collected data is relevant and timely, especially in anticipation of the finalization of the 2030 Agenda and the UNICEF 2021-2025 new Country Program for Belarus.
This has been the third time for Belarus to partake in the survey. Previously, the situation of women and children was surveyed under MICS 3 (2005) and MICS 4 (2012). The collected data will complement the national indicators, focusing attention of the government and the society on the new and previously unexplored aspects; it will also help tracking progress of the key indicators.
— MICS has enabled us to see a comprehensive and particular landscape of the life of children and women in Belarus and benchmark with other countries, which carry out such a survey, too, — said Inna Medvedeva, Chairperson of Belstat. The data we have collected is qualitative and internationally recognized. It will be useful in planning social policy of the government at various levels.
When designing the survey sample, we considered the need to collect data not only at the national level but also at the urban and rural levels. The survey interviewed almost 8,700 households: over 5,500 women aged 15-49 years and about 2,800 men aged 15-59 years. Experts have also collected data on 3,500 children aged 5 years and over 2,700 children aged 5-17 years. The survey applied the MICS model questionnaires that had been adapted to the national context. Thus, experts were able to collect data on more than 120 indicators, which also helped track progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (21 SDG indicators were covered). E.g., it was found that 84% of the population used “clean” fuels and technologies (electricity, natural gas) for food cooking, heating and lighting; 65% of women and 95% of men felt safe walking alone in their neighbourhood at night.
Following the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO), a special module was included in MICS 6: a sociological survey on alcohol consumption. Thus, the survey revealed that 46.7% of female respondents and 67.5% of male respondents had had at least one drink one month prior to the survey.
The data on prenatal and postnatal care proves the fact that the government deliberately focuses on the health of mothers and children in Belarus. 68% of the surveyed women used free institutional healthcare services during their prenatal period, while 30% used both paid and free medical care. 99.9% of women gave birth in the presence of qualified health workers and almost all women gave birth in healthcare institutions. 57.3% of the surveyed mothers were under medical supervision for 3-6 days after delivery and 41.9% were supervised for 7 days and longer. Every newborn in the country is under health supervision.
The survey also helped collect data on women's attitudes to childbirth. Thus, it turned out that 36% of women of fertile age would like to give birth to (another) child. 50% would prefer not to have (more) children; 3% of women were not able to get pregnant; 11% of women did not crystalize their intentions. More than half of those who would like to give birth to (another) child intend to deliver within 5 years.
The survey has also revealed people’s awareness about HIV/AIDS, since correct and reliable data is the main tool for preventing and reducing morbidity. Thus, experts learned that all women and men aged 15-49 years were aware of HIV/AIDS. However, only 56% of the population aged 15-49 years had comprehensive knowledge about HIV transmission.
22% of infants aged 0-5 months were exclusively breastfed (19% in 2012), the survey says. The global average of exclusive breastfeeding in children up to 6 months is 41%; however, WHO/UNICEF recommend 70%.
According to the WHO recommendations, children aged 6 months plus should get nutritional support in addition to breastmilk. 93% of children aged 6-23 months (74.2% in 2012) get the recommended minimum of solid, semi-solid or soft foods according to their age.
The MICS 6 survey also collected data on early childhood development (ECD). 97% of adults read books to children, teach them to count and draw, play and sing together. Mothers are 3 times more likely to engage in 4+ activities with children to develop their skills and get them ready for school than fathers. MICS 6 included the questions on parents' engagement in the educational process of their children aged 7-14 years. According to the data collected, 90% of parents discuss their children's school performance with teachers, and 68% of parents help their children doing their homework.
The MICS 6 survey had questions that enabled to calculate the Early Childhood Development Index (ECDI). In Belarus, 87% of children aged 3-4 years develop according to their age, with the highest ECDI recorded among children who attend early education programs (88%), while children who do not attend such programs have the index value of 77%.
The survey has also shed light on parenting. It turned out that 2.4% of children had stayed home alone or under the care of another child aged under 10 years for over than one hour at least once during the week prior to the survey.
The survey measured violent disciplining of children: 57% of children aged 1-14 years were subjected to at least one type of physical punishment or psychological pressure from their adult household members. The share of mothers (primary caregivers) who think that physical punishment was necessary to raise or educate children was 9%.
MICS 6 also depicted what people felt about domestic violence. The majority of the country's residents have a negative attitude towards domestic violence. 3.7% of women and 3.8% of men aged 15-49 years believe that a husband/male partner may hit or beat his wife/female partner in any of the following cases: if she leaves home without his permission; if she does not “properly” care for the children; if she objects to him; if she refuses sexual intimacy with him; or if her food burns.
In the course of the survey, respondents were asked questions about their life satisfaction and their feeling of happiness. 90% of women and 86% of men aged 15-49 years feel happy. 7 points out of 10: this is how women and men rate their life satisfaction on average.