|© UNICEF/HQ98-0891/ Pirozzi|
|UNICEF has identified five key areas where it can make a difference for children around the world.|
By Jane O’Brien
NEW YORK, 28 September 2005 – In 2005, the situation facing children in many countries remains extremely grave. Some 10.8 million infants die every year, 2 million are infected with HIV, and an estimated 15 million have been orphaned by AIDS.
One child in five has no safe water and one in six is severely hungry. At least 115 million primary school-age children are not going to school – a majority of them girls – and children around the world continue to be exposed to violence, exploitation and abuse.
At UNICEF’s Executive Board Meeting in New York, 28 September 2005, delegates agreed on a four-year plan to set out the organization’s framework for action to face these serious challenges. The Medium-Term Strategic Plan highlights five key areas where UNICEF can make a difference.
“Number one – you have to survive. If you don’t survive, nothing else counts,” says Kul Gautam, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director. “Once you survive you need to be healthy, you need to have the chance for education, you need to be protected from HIV/AIDS – which is a terrible disaster for children – and then you need to be protected from exploitation.”
Five focus areas
The action framework in UNICEF’s Medium-term Strategic Plan focuses on these areas:
• Young child survival and development – reducing the under-five mortality rate by two thirds by 2015;
• Basic education and gender equality – ensuring that every child receives a primary education;
• HIV/AIDS and children - putting children at the centre of policy agendas and halting the spread of the disease by 2015;
• Child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse – helping governments to provide a protective environment;
• Policy advocacy and partnerships for children’s rights – implementing the principles enshrined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Action on these focus areas will help achieve the broader aspirations of the Millennium Development Goals.
“The most important of the goals is poverty reduction,” says Mr. Gautam. “If we want to reduce poverty we have to start by investing in children, because if children don’t grow up to be healthy, educated citizens, they will not grow up to be productive. If they are not productive, poverty will not be reduced. So you see, the goals are extremely important for children.”
Working with its partners, UNICEF will continue to focus on the most marginalized children and the poorest families and the promotion of gender equality.