United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF)

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United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF), formerly known as United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. It was established in 11 December 1946 with the objective of providing relief to children in countries that was devastated by World War II. It is the main United Nations specialized organisation which defends, promotes and protects the children’s rights.

Headquarters – New York City

President – Tore Hattrem

Nineteen years after its founding, UNICEF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on 26 October 1965 for “fulfilling the condition of Nobel’s will, the promotion of brotherhood among the nations“ and emerging on the world stage as a “a peace-factor of great importance.”

Structure:

UNICEF is governed by an Executive Board consisting of 36 members that are elected to terms of three years by United Nations’ Economic and Social Council. Each region that UNICEF serves is allocated a number of seats on the Executive Board, so all regions are represented.

While UNICEF is headquartered in the United States, it is active in at least 190 countries around the world. Its activities are divided by region and include Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, East Asia and the Pacific, Eastern and Southern Africa, Latin America and Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, West and Central Africa. A regional office is located within each region.

Purpose:

According to UNICEF’s statement, ‘UNICEF is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs, and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential.’

However, we can divide UNICEF’s activities into 4 broad areas.

  • Protection of children from violence, exploitation and abusive situations. Issues of concern including child labor, child marriage, child recruitment into military, child trafficking, female genital mutilation, landmines, and sexual violence.
  • End preventable deaths and developmental problems of children through healthcare, nutrition, water and sanitation programs.
  • Support basic education and gender equality, including early education, enhancing the primary and secondary education quality, and ensuring equitable access to nutrition for both girls and boys.
  • Provide humanitarian aid during crisis and emergencies with a focus on saving the lives and protecting the rights of children suffering through natural disasters, such as tsunamis, and man made disasters such as war.

UNICEF in India:

  • UNICEF has been working in India since 1949. The largest UN organization in the country, UNICEF is fully committed to working with the Government of India to ensure that each child born in this vast and complex country gets the best start in life, thrives and develops to his/her full potential.
  • In the latest UNICEF annual report released, states that through the partnership led by the Government of India (GoI), the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Rotary International, the Government of Japan, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention India has been officially declared as ‘Polio Free Nation’ by the World Health Organistaion.
  • UNICEF has also partnered the Government of India in the ambitious Swachh bharat abhiyan with the aim of ‘Clean India’ by October 2019.
  • UNICEF India developed child friendly schools and systems guiding principles to support all states in acceleration and implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), with a renewed focus on learning outcomes and inclusion. UNICEF India also collaborated with the Ministry of Human Resource Development to widely disseminate national learning achievement data to improve teaching and learning practices.
  • In 2014, UNICEF India’s supplies and services totalled US$103,158,552 including procurement services, 70 per cent more than 2013. Institutional contracts and services represented 92 per cent while off-shore amounted to 1 per cent of total UNICEF India procurement of US$44,736,119 (excluding procurement services).

Priorities of UNICEF

Young child survival and development:

The chance to survive is a right owed to every child. UNICEF and its partners are leading global efforts to end preventable child deaths, working with governments, national and international agencies, and civil society to support effective and life-saving actions at each phase in a child’s life-from prenatal care in a mother’s pregnancy to effective and affordable health care through childhood and into adulthood.

Basic Education and Gender Equality:

UNICEF helps governments, communities and parents gain the capacities and skills they need to fulfil their obligations for children. These obligations include ensuring the right of all children to free, compulsory quality education, even during a humanitarian crisis, in the recovery period after a crisis, or in fragile or unstable situations. It also focus on gender equality and work towards eliminating disparities of all kinds.

Unite for children, unite against AIDS:

UNICEF works to ensure that all babies, children, adolescents and their mothers, are able to access life-saving HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. UNICEF engages country-level partners around the world to make HIV prevention, testing, and treatment as widely available as possible, including in remote areas, fragile states and to those children in marginalized populations. It promotes rapid integration and expansion of HIV education and care into maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health services.

Humanitarian Action for Children:

Children are at the epicentre of today’s global emergencies. Nearly 250 million children live in countries affected by conflict and millions more face risks from natural hazards and fast spreading epidemics. Before, during and after an emergency, UNICEF is on the ground delivering life-saving assistance to children and their families. UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children highlights the situation of children living in the most challenging circumstances, outlines the support required to help them survive and thrive, and shows the results UNICEF and its partners have achieved and are working towards.

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