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UNICEF home The State of the World's Children
2002 Photo © UNICEF



V. Acts of leadership

Fifteen-year-old Kuheli Battacharya is an inspiration to teens and adults alike. With five of her friends and $720 in funding from Netaid.org Foundation, the young Indian girl runs a vaccination clinic for poor children in her community of Pune, India. "If we don't care," she asks, "who will?"

© UNICEF/98-1123/Pirozzi

HIV-positive children like these two AIDS orphans in Nairobi, Kenya, may benefit from AIDS drugs made available at low cost by some pharmaceutical corporations.

Maldives President H. E. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom invested heavily in social programmes, particularly those for children. Today, the Maldives shows some of the region's biggest gains in social indicators: low infant mortality, good basic education and high literacy rates.

In Namibia, secondary school graduates, enrolled in 10 days of training in the My Future is My Choice programme, learn to facilitate a life skills training course for their peers. Between 1997 and mid-2000 the programme reached 74,000 young people. Namibia expects to meet its target of reaching 80 per cent of 15- to 18-year-olds by the end of 2001.

In the private sector, many businesses are beginning to act on their obligations to society. And some corporations are responding to the leadership of individuals and coalitions.

In the battle against HIV/AIDS, Pfizer now offers fluconazole – used to treat a fungal brain infection common in AIDS patients – free to the least developed countries. Bristol-Myers Squibb company recently announced it will sell its patented AIDS medications, didanosine and stavudine, for $1 a day, to African countries battling the HIV epidemic.

Students at Yale University in the United States pressured the school, which earns $40 million a year by holding the patent for stavudine, to use its influence to make available low-cost AIDS drugs to Africa and other poor countries.

In an act of leadership for the rights and well-being of young girls, nine sheiks from Somalia travelled to Cairo to participate in a course at Al-Azhar International University Centre for Islamic Studies on the harm of female genital mutilation. Grass-roots movements to end this ancient practice are spreading across the continent.

And children themselves are leading the way to change. An 11-year-old from Azerbaijan, Farid Dadashev, collected more than 1,000 signatures in his work in the Azerbaijan Child to Child Peace Network. Says Farid, "If children need peace, they must do something."


For additional information on topics mentioned in the text, click on the links below:
Netaid.org Foundation

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'In brief'

Leadership from 1990- 2000
The United Nations Special Session on Children
The Global Movement for Children: 'Say Yes for Children'
The magic of leadership
Acts of leadership
Leadership challenges
Good for children, good for the world
It takes a leader to listen
The costs of children's silence
Every nation has a role to play