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UNICEF announces partnership with couturier Gavin Rajah to support child protection programmes in South Africa

© UNICEF/SouthAfrica/Toureau
Designer Gavin Rajah, with Her Excellency, Nomasomto Sibanda-Thusi, South African Ambassador to France and UNICEF South Africa Country Representative, Macharia Kamau at the announcement of the partnership with UNICEF South Africa in Paris.

Paris, France, 23 January 2007… UNICEF South Africa and leading South African couturier Gavin Rajah today announced a partnership that aims to boost both advocacy and financial support for UNICEF’s child protection programmes in South Africa.

The programmes focus on prevention, care and support of orphans and other vulnerable children from violence, abuse and exploitation.

The alliance between the world’s leading children’s organization and the fashion designer was announced Tuesday evening at a reception following the showing of Mr. Rajah’s second Paris Fashion Week collection in the French capital.  

“We are extremely proud of this partnership through which Gavin Rajah has taken a personal stance to generate action and resources to drive protection and care of our most vulnerable children from heinous crimes of violence and abuse,” said Macharia Kamau, UNICEF South Africa Country Representative.

“There is an urgent need to find creative solutions, to forge innovative and model partnerships with the private sector and other champions of children’s rights to help to ensure that children can grow up feeling safe and protected.  This new alliance with Gavin Rajah demonstrates how a socially responsible company can use its creativity and resources to help ensure the well being of children,” he said.
Gavin Rajah, the first South African haute couture designer to be invited to show his creations at the prestigious Paris Fashion Week said, “I am immensely proud to be associated with UNICEF as a partner in the development of children in my country.” Having achieved local and international success, Mr. Rajah feels that his time has come to give something back to the community. 

“I believe in the important role that protection and development of children plays in the creation of healthy and prosperous communities, countries and our world. I am also deeply concerned about the high incidence of child abuse and violence against children in my country. With over 60 years of global experience, I feel that UNICEF is the right partner to help create safer and protective environments so that more children are spared the scourge of violence and abuse”. 

Mr. Rajah has pledged to donate a percentage of sales of Gavin Rajah clothing and accessories to UNICEF towards its child protection work in South Africa.  Rajah joins the likes of major South African and global celebrities such as David Beckham, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Robbie Williams, Angelique Kidjoe,  Yassou N'Dour and Roger Federer in their commitment to supporting  UNICEF’s work to improve the lives of children around the world.

According to UNICEF, children who experience abuse are more likely to become victims of abuse themselves with lasting effect. The impact begins early and can impair their mental and emotional growth in a critical stage of development. 

In South Africa and elsewhere, children who are exposed to violence also face a range of possible effects including trouble with school work, limited social skills, depression, anxiety and other psychological problems. They are at greater risk for substance abuse, teenage pregnancy and delinquent behaviour, according to UNICEF.

South Africa which has the second highest number of people infected with HIV (5.5 m) has made steady progress in with innovative legislation to fight the scourge of violence that is closely linked to HIV and AIDS and sexual abuse of women and children.  Some 7 million children have been lifted out of poverty by accessing social grants; increasing numbers of children can now access anti-retroviral treatment and there are expanding efforts to keep infected parents alive, thereby reducing children’s vulnerability to exploitation. Still, huge challenges remain. 

A percentage of the funds raised from the sale of garments shown at Mr. Rajah’s Paris Fashion Week show today, and from a year-long series of high profile advocacy events scheduled for 2007, will be donated to UNICEF South Africa.  The funds will be used to strengthen initiatives operated by UNICEF’s network of community based partners in high poverty rural areas across the country, with technical inputs provided by the UNICEF in-country team. 


Gavin Rajah
© Gavin Rajah
Mr. Rajah is a committed advocate for children’s right to protection and full development.

About Gavin Rajah

The Gavin Rajah Company was established by Mr. Rajah in 2000.  Mr. Rajah’s debut collection at Paris Fashion Week was launched in July 2006. 

In accordance with the Federation Française de la couture, strict criteria must be met by any designer participating at Paris Fashion Week. This fashion authority designates the title of haute couture to deserving designers by law. This entitlement belongs only to the extraordinary – those whose designs are clearly distinguishable for their superior quality and inventiveness.

As a proudly South African designer, his entire collection is manufactured locally, exposing South African design talent and workmanship, while preserving an authentic theme to the world of international fashion and haute couture.

Only two other designers from outside of Europe have previously enjoyed this success, namely Ellie Saab and Carlos Miele.
Mr. Rajah is a committed advocate for children’s right to protection and full development.  He works within the fashion industry and broader business community to help raise awareness of the issues affecting the holistic development of children in South Africa.



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