Now more than ever we need action to give every child a better childhood, future and a fair chance

Statement by Patrizia DiGiovanni, UNICEF Representative on UNICEF responding, rebuilding, and reimagining the future for every child since 1946

11 December 2021

Skopje, 11 December 2021: “Today UNICEF marks 75 years since it was created to meet the critical needs of children whose lives had been torn apart by World War II.  While we commemorate the past, the challenges that children face today require us to reimagine the future so that every child has a better childhood, better future and a fair chance.

Through the decades, together with government partners, donors, advocates and supporters, UNICEF has delivered for children all over the world.  From short-term relief during crisis to long-term development programmes, we have reimagined what is possible to advance child rights and their wellbeing.

  • UNICEF’s very first global supply shipment of clothing, shoes, soap and other emergency supplies, in August 1947, was actually for children of this country when it was Yugoslavia.
  • In the 50’s UNICEF worked with the government to improve the supply of milk. UNICEF imported equipment to support a national milk conservation plan – as a result, safe, wholesome milk was made available either free or at a very low cost for over 800,000 children and mothers.
  • In 1957, UNICEF initiated the formation of National Institute for Mother & Child Health in Skopje. At that time the child mortality rate was as high as 138.6 per thousand live births.
  • In 1963, UNICEF supported relief efforts after the tragic earthquake in Skopje.
  • Since 1993 - when UNICEF open an office in the country after it became an independent state -  UNICEF has always been among the first to provide support to children during times of crisis and has been working with partners to ensure ever child, enjoys every right. 

Throughout our history, UNICEF has helped to shape healthier and safer environments for children, everywhere across the globe and in this country. We supported system strengthening reforms that have contributed to less children dying before the age of five, more children in school, every child in the country living in a family environment and promising cross-sectoral reforms to end exclusion and protect children from violence, abuse and neglect.  

These gains have been put at risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a year in which we should be looking forward, we are at risk of going backwards. COVID-19 has affected children at an unprecedented scale, making it the worst crisis for children UNICEF has seen in its 75-year history.  It has changed the lives of children and young people and their mental health in profound ways and at a stage in their lives where they should be developing to fulfil their optimal potential.

But it’s not the only crisis impacting children today. Children are also in the midst of a learning crisis, climate change, widespread social and economic challenges and rising poverty and inequality. We still see many children being left behind simply because of where they live, the wealth of their family, their ethnicity or disability. These challenges impact us all, but they hit the most vulnerable children the hardest.

This week, UNICEF launched a new study on the Multidimensional Child Poverty in North Macedonia highlighting that deprivations in education, early childhood development, nutrition, safety, and love and care are among the top 5 contributors to the multidimensional child poverty.

Now more than ever we need action so that every child has a better childhood, future and a fair chance. Just as we rebuilt from the ruins of World War II, our goal today remains ensuring recovery from the pandemic by prioritizing investments for children.

Investments to improve quality and inclusive education, expand access to preschool and basic social and child protection services, support to mental health and introduce new services and programmes to support parents so that every child grows up in loving family environment, ensure fair justice for children system, must be seen as investments to tackle child poverty and build a brighter future for all of the citizens of the country.  We need investments to address those being left behind including children in Roma households, children with disabilities and children in rural communities.

As we work with governments, donors and other organizations to reimagine our collective path for the next 75 years, we must keep children first in line for investment and action.”

Media contacts

Suzie Pappas Capovska
Tel: (02) 3231-244
Irina Ivanovska
Tel: (02) 3231-172


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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