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UNICEF, YMCA Team Up to Promote Youth Leadership

New Alliance Seeks to Get Youth Involved in Creating More Peaceful Society

GENEVA, 14 March 2006 – UNICEF and the World Alliance of YMCAs announced the launch of a formal alliance to work together to support and promote child development, health, education and values of equality, respect and tolerance.

The two organizations will support activities that enhance youth leadership and the meaningful involvement of young people in creating a more just and peaceful society. “UNICEF is proud to work with the YMCA to ensure that youth leadership is respected and nurtured,” said Rima Salah, deputy executive director of UNICEF. “Through this partnership we hope to help create an environment in which even more children can grow to their fullest potential.”

UNICEF and the World Alliance of YMCAs are committed to using this partnership as a way to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and will make special efforts in this collaboration to address the needs of children and young people in marginalized or excluded communities, including indigenous peoples.

Dr. Bart Shaha, Secretary General of the World Alliance of YMCAs said, “It is my hope that our new partnership will make a real impact on the daily lives of children and young people around the world on critical issues such as HIV and AIDS and education. Together we have tremendous expertise that we want to use to scale up our efforts to promote the rights of children.”

UNICEF and the World Alliance of YMCAs will focus on:

* Combatting HIV/AIDS. The alliance will focus on training youth leaders to work with adult leaders and governments to promote primary prevention, identify orphans and vulnerable children, promote messages on preventing mother to child transmission and create programs to empower girls and young women and educate boys and young men to promote gender equality. As one major initiative the World Alliance of YMCAs will join UNICEF as a major supporter and proponent of the Global Campaign on Children and AIDS.

* Basic Education and Gender Equality. The two groups will promote improved community and family care practices to help children be ready to start primary school on time, especially marginalized children and indigenous peoples and will work with the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative to improve access to and completion of primary education.

* The Protection of Children Especially the Most Vulnerable. Using the UN Study on Violence against Children as a framework, the new alliance will promote inter-generational dialogue on issues affecting children’s rights, e.g., violence in schools and corporal punishment, and will support efforts to make sure children are involved in the presentation and implementation of the study.

The organizations will also produce information and educational materials to educate all people, especially children and young people, about the human rights dimension of gender inequity; to empower girls and young women to assume their rightful positions in society; and to end violence against women.


The World Alliance of YMCAs is a Christian, ecumenical and voluntary world movement working with women and men, with a special emphasis on young people, to build a human community of justice, peace and reconciliation for the fullness of life for all. The YMCA works for the spiritual, intellectual and physical well-being of all people and communities, irrespective of religious, racial or cultural background. In particular the YMCA works to defend and promote the rights of children and young people; to create conditions for all, especially women and young people, to assume responsibilities and leadership at all levels for a just society; and to promote solidarity with the poor, dispossessed, marginalized and oppressed. The YMCA is present in more than 120 countries in all continents and is continuing to expand. There are over 14,000 local YMCAs with more than 40 million members world-wide. The YMCA is one of the largest and oldest youth movements in the world.

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:

UNICEF: Andres Guerrero, (0041) 22 909 5773, aguerrero@unicef.org www.unicef.org World Alliance of YMCAs: Jenny Aris, (0041) 79 542 1467, jenny@ymca.int www.ymca.int




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