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The child in the family

Overview: The child in the family

© UNICEF/HQ03-0278/ Zaidi
Naz Bibi (centre), 11, smiles, standing with her mother and father, Noor Bibi and Jalal Khan, outside their home in the village of Marriabbad in the Balochistan district of Sibi, Pakistan

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of International Year of the Family, this section of the website is dedicated to describing UNICEF’s actions around the world in strengthening the role of the family with respect to children. UNICEF programs are guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We believe that the family remains at the centre of UNICEF’s work to achieve children’s rights and to help children realize their full potential.

UNICEF is committed to giving young children the best start in life. Through early childhood development programs, UNICEF works with governments and other partners to ensure young children good health care and proper nutrition, to protect children from violence and exploitation, to promote the participation of children in the lives of their families and communities at the youngest ages.

When the child reaches school-age, the role of the family remains critically important. Every child has the fundamental right to a quality basic education. UNICEF devotes special efforts to giving girls and boys equal learning opportunities.

When the child reaches Adolescence - A Time That Matters, the family continues to play a protective role. Adolescents are making decisions that have lifelong consequences. It is precisely at this time that adolescents need the continuing support and guidance of their family in order to achieve their rights of development and participation.

UNICEF is also committed to promoting gender equality and eliminating gender disparity. Through health care and basic education programs, UNICEF supports women’s full participation and empowerment in the community and within their families; UNICEF works to end violence against women and girls, particularly violence within their families.

Finally, the family’s protection is especially important for children who are exposed to natural disasters, war or armed conflict. When families are under stress, children are more likely to fall prey to exploitation and abuse. UNICEF has developed strategies that help to preserve families under stress and strengthen family capacities, as well as to protect children without parental care.

Even with efforts to ensure that children remain with their family, there are times when children become separated from their families. UNICEF attempts to reunite these children with their families, whenever possible, and as quickly as possible. UNICEF seeks to ensure that children separated from their families are cared for by extended family members or other caregivers who will provide as close to a family experience as possible, until it is possible for them to return to family life.

 “A strong, loving and supportive family is the best environment for raising children and the best start for ensuring that the rights of children are fulfilled,” says UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy.






Rima Salah, Regional Director, West and Central Africa Region, discusses the importance of the family.

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On the 2004 International Day of Families, UNICEF remembers children who are alone

Ex-child combatants and children separated from their families at a UNICEF supported interim care centre in Sierra Leone. Photo: © UNICEF Sierra Leone        

On the 2004 International Day of Families, UNICEF remembers children who are alone


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