UNICEF and Sansiri announce partnership for children
BANGKOK, 8 September 2011 – Under the theme of “Children are everyone’s business”, UNICEF and Sansiri Plc, one of the largest real estate companies in Thailand, have announced a long-term partnership to promote the well being of children through improved health, education and participation in sport.
Under a three-year Memorandum of Understanding, UNICEF and Sansiri agreed to promote a comprehensive approach to corporate social responsibility (CSR) that involves the corporate sector in both planning and carrying out programmes to improve the well being of children in Thailand. The partnership with Sansiri is the largest and most comprehensive UNICEF has entered into with a corporate entity in Thailand.
Sansiri has already carried out a number of activities aimed at improving the well being of children, ranging from establishing a breastfeeding room for mothers among its staff at its Bangkok headquarters to banning child labour at its building construction sites and promoting such a ban at all building sites in the country. Sansiri also played a key role in pushing for a new regulation that requires all salt for human consumption to be iodized. The regulation, which took effect on January 1, 2011, is aimed at addressing the problem of iodine deficiency disorders, which have been linked to poor school performance in children and lower IQs.
UNICEF and Sansiri are also planning a major campaign later this year to promote both improved access to and a better quality education for all children in Thailand. The collaboration will also look at supporting improved opportunities for children to be involved in sports.
In addition to supporting programmes benefiting children in Thailand, Sansiri has agreed to assist UNICEF programmes that aid poor and needy children affected by natural and man-made disasters and conflict around the world.
At an event held to announce the UNICEF-Sansiri partnership, Anand Panyarachun, the former Prime Minister and UNICEF Thailand Goodwill Ambassador, said: “The corporate sector can play a key, positive role in helping children channel their energy and enthusiasm into positive and constructive outcomes for the world around them. By putting children first, we can turn the world’s most pressing problems upside down and find the solutions needed to build sustainable economies and healthy societies.”
Anand said although there has been much progress for children in Thailand and around the world in recent decades, millions of children still live in abject poverty and lack access to the basic services needed to ensure their survival. Millions of children are also still not in school and suffer from violence, abuse, stigmatization and discrimination. In addition, climate change, conflict, corruption and an increasing number of natural and man-made disasters are serving to exacerbate these problems for children, he said.
In Thailand alone, there are some 600,000 primary-school aged children who are not in school or who enroll in school late, and many young children do not have access to any form of organized-early childhood education. Only 5.4 per cent of children are exclusively breastfed each year, while as many as 70 per cent of pregnant women do not consume sufficient amounts of iodine in their diets, which is needed to ensure proper brain development for their babies.
Sansiri’s Chairman, Kovit Poshyananda, said the collaboration between UNICEF, Sansiri, government agencies and communities on the salt iodization regulation showed that sustainable change must come from the collaboration of all sectors.
“I hope that the partnership between UNICEF and Sansiri will stimulate other companies to realize that children are everyone’s business and that child-friendly business practices are something that every company can adopt.” Kovit said.
Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF Thailand Representative, said the UNICEF and Sansiri partnership shows the importance of involving the business sector in solving children’s issues. In countries around the world, UNICEF works with leading corporations such as IKEA, Pampers and the Barcelona and Manchester United football clubs.
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