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Civil society partnerships

Civil society and UNICEF

© © UNICEF/NYHQ2009-1915/Giacomo Pirozzi
In Mali, a group of migrant girls, some with babies, attend a counselling session at a UNICEF-assisted shelter for adolescent girls in Bamako, the capital. The shelter is managed by the local NGO Association pour la Jeunesse et le Developpement du Mali.

UNICEF partners with infinitely diverse civil society organizations, which offer a broad range of expertise and experience. It is this diversity that produces some of the most innovative and effective achievements for children.

While UNICEF-CSO partnerships reach across a broad range of child-related issues, realizing rights for children is the common thread that unites them. Some partnerships focus on strengthening child protection systems to prevent violence and sexual abuse, while others implement strategies to improve access to basic health services for mothers and children. UNICEF also works with CSOs to create community-led plans for improved hygiene and water safety, and to ensure that all children have access to education. Whether UNICEF engagement with CSOs focuses specifically on children or on broader issues that impact their wellbeing – such as poverty, climate change, or gender equality – the majority of these partnerships take place at country level.

CSOs and UNICEF work together with communities to support advocacy and policy reform and to promote child participation. Some partnerships focus on responding to emergencies or humanitarian crisis, providing basic services to populations in need. Others concentrate on working with governments to ensure they meet child rights obligations. Some CSOs carry out a combination of all of this work, whereas others focus exclusively on a single area.

What is 'civil society'?

The civil society net is broad. For the purposes of partnering with UNICEF, CSOs are defined as associations independent of the public and for-profit sectors and designed to advance collective interests. Some of the civil society partners with which UNICEF has worked include:

  • International and national non-governmental organizations
  • Community-based organizations
  • Social movements
  • Faith-based organizations
  • Advocacy groups
  • Trade unions
  • Women's groups
  • Professional voluntary associations
  • Foundations
  • Independent media
  • Social networks
  • Think-tanks and research institutes



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