Young people believe the world is becoming a better place but are impatient for action on crises - UNICEF poll

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, results from Kenya reveal young people’s economic confidence and embrace of international cooperation

20 November 2021

Nairobi, 20 November 2021 - Children and young people are nearly 50 per cent more likely than older people to believe that the world is becoming a better place with each generation, according to a new international survey of more than 21,000 children and adults by UNICEF and Gallup, released ahead of World Children’s Day on 20 November.

The Changing Childhood Project: A multigenerational, international survey on 21st century childhood’ also shows that young people are also more likely to believe childhood itself has improved, with overwhelming majorities believing that healthcare, education, and physical safety are better for today's children than for their parents’ generation.

Kenya was one of 21 countries involved in the survey, More than two thirds (69 per cent) of young Kenyans between the ages of 15 and 24 were convinced that children will be better off economically than their parents, compared to 46 per cent of people over 40. All generations of Kenyans were also firm believers in international cooperation – making Kenya one of the top two countries, along with Spain, in this area.

“Young Kenyans are leading the way in approaching the future with positivity and optimism,” said UNICEF Representative to Kenya Maniza Zaman. “They see themselves as part of the solution to national and global problems – suggesting concrete actions that we can all make to improve the way we live and work locally and internationally.”

The survey also highlights challenges that young people face. Globally, it found that children are worried about climate change, they are sceptical about the information they consume on social media, and they struggle with depression and anxiety.

In Kenya, the survey revealed a digital divide between generations – 45 per cent of young people use the Internet every day, compared to 29 per cent of older people. However, it also exposed a digital divide between Kenya and other countries, where in many cases more than 90 per cent of young people use the Internet daily.

Acceptance of violence was also a concern: the survey showed that Kenya had the second highest level of people thinking it is appropriate for a parent to physically punish a child – at more than two thirds (68 per cent) of younger people, versus 71 per cent of older people. Kenya also had one of the highest rates of both younger and older generations believing that governments should listen to children when shaping policies.

“We still have a long way to go to address attitudes towards violence against children in Kenya, as well as other critical issues,” says Maniza Zaman. “Together, through initiatives like the national ‘Spot it, Stop It’ campaign and children’s helpline 116, we can find solutions and challenge ingrained assumptions, to keep our children safe from harm.”

UNICEF at 75 anniversary

The Changing Childhood survey was launched in Kenya at the ‘UNICEF at 75’ high-level anniversary event in Nairobi, to celebrate 75 years of UNICEF’s work around the world and also 50 years in Kenya. Keynote speakers included Chief Justice of Kenya, Hon. Martha Karambu Koome, and First Lady of Kenya, H.E. Margaret Kenyatta.

At the event, winners were announced for UNICEF and the Nation Media Group’s Wisdom Project. Launched in October, this competition asked children and young people to interview older people in their family or community about children’s issues over the past 75 years. The winner in the 10 to 15-year-old category was Angela Andia for a video interview with her grandmother, while the winner in the 16 to 24-year-old category was Otuki Akoya for an essay, also interviewing her grandmother.

In her winning essay, Otuki quotes her grandmother saying: “People born in these recent ages have an edge over us. You have all sets of opportunities knocking on your doors. All information needed is available on the Internet. The voices of children are heard and even the Government has made children’s rights crystal clear to the public. Formal education has been made a right for all children. Utilize the resources that you have, in order to come up with more innovations that will better your lives.”

The UNICEF at 75 event was closed by First Lady of the Republic of Kenya, H.E. Margaret Kenyatta and Chief Justice of Kenya Hon. Martha Karambu Koome, both of whom acknowledged UNICEF’s contribution to protecting and promoting children’s rights in Kenya.

“UNICEF’s contribution has helped achieve insurmountable results for children, including the eradication of polio, humanitarian relief and universal primary education,” First Lady Margaret Kenyatta said. “It is my hope that the UNICEF legacy will be kept alive and carried forward far into the future.”

Download materials

  • The Changing Childhood survey, Wisdom Project winning entries, high-resolution photos and other materials from the event can be downloaded here:


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UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit For more information about COVID-19, visit . Find out more about UNICEF’s work on the COVID-19 vaccines here, or about UNICEF’s work on immunization here.