IV. The magic of leadership
The global record on meeting the 1990 World Summit
goals for children and development is mixed, with children suffering
when governments have failed to protect their rights.
Former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (centre)
stands amid children and others preparing to release doves
in front of the national Parliament building at the launch
of the 'Say Yes for Children' campaign in Bangladesh in
But, when leaders have made children the centre of their policies
and practices, the results have been almost magical.
In 1961, for example, when Julius Nyerere became the first Prime
Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania, the country had an
adult illiteracy rate of 85 per cent, only two trained engineers
and 12 doctors. When he retired as President in 1985, Tanzania
had a 91 per cent literacy rate, thousands of engineers, doctors
and teachers, and nearly every child was in school.
Costa Rica has long invested in children. In 1948, President
José Figueres abolished the army. With one stroke of the
pen, military expenditures became the Education Ministry budget.
This commitment to human needs has continued under all administrations
since, whether politically right, left or centre. Costa Rica now
has one of the best social indicators of the region.
Corporate leadership has also made a difference. In Cambodia,
for instance, Mr. Bun Barang, one of the largest salt producers
in the country, has agreed to iodize 60 per cent of his production
in 2001 and 100 per cent in 2002. This act will save millions
of children from disabilities.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, 23 leading intellectuals,
including Chilean novelist Isabel Allende and Uruguayan writer
Eduardo Galeano, challenged governments and citizens throughout
the region to come together to form a 'Social Pact' for its 192
million children and adolescents.
The former South African President, Nelson Mandela, the epitome
of leadership, and Graça Machel, former Minister of Education
in Mozambique and advocate for children affected by armed conflict,
have called for a global leadership initiative on behalf of children.
"The future for our children lies in leadership," they
have written, "and the choices leaders make."
For additional information on topics mentioned in the text,
click on the links below:
Manifesto in support for a Social Pact for Children