Every presidential election leads to a discussion of birth certificates. Is it OK to be born in Canada? Was the Canal Zone part of the U.S.? Was he really born in Hawaii? These questions are political in nature and miss the larger point.
In many countries birth certificates are not a given, and not having a birth certificate can have devastating consequences. How the Birth Certificate Became a Ticket to Society highlights some of these consequences:
- Denial of health care, schooling, and fair treatment in society.
- Risk of child labor, forcible conscription, child marriage, trafficking, and sexual exploitation.
More than 230 million children under the age of five have no birth certificate, including many children in China, India, and Somalia.
See also The Value of Identification.