20th November is the most important day of the year for UNICEF, marking the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the United Nations. UNICEF, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, was founded in 1946 to help children recover from the damage caused by World War II.
Getting Involved and Fundraising for UNICEF UK
The UNICEF ESCP London society was relaunched in October 2020 at ESCP Business School's London Campus, and is ready now more than ever to take a stand for children’s rights. The Society Board comprises four members: Onkar Kharadkar (Secretary), Riccardo Maldarelli (Treasurer), Shubham Aggarwal (Public Relations), and Anna Lelorieux as Chair. The team is growing fast and they aspire to further expand to other ESCP campuses across Europe. They are now recruiting for four Committees: Awareness, Media, Events and Sponsors.
When joining the society, members make the choice to become spokespersons raising awareness and funds for the most vulnerable children in the world. Their commitment is far reaching, creating awareness and encouraging others to stand for a great cause while participating in meaningful activities.
World Children's Day is one of the major events that puts a spotlight on the global efforts made by UNICEF. But the work continues every other day of the year, too, and the UNICEF ESCP London society needs everyday ambassadors and promoters of child wellbeing and donations to make that long-lasting change for those most vulnerable.
Every 12 seconds, a child somewhere in the world dies because of causes related to malnutrition. UNICEF provides 80% of the world’s supply of life-saving food for malnourished children, but there is still much to do.
The main focus of UNICEF ESCP London this coming year is on Nepal, where 31% of under-18s live in poverty; team members plan to visit the country in January 2022. Considering the disastrous situation, donations can play a crucial role in keeping children safe from danger. Money raised by the team goes directly to UNICEF UK. From a life-saving vaccine to school books in a rural village classroom, the money donated could protect a child from dangers like disease and abuse, and help them grow up safe and healthy. On average over the last five years, for every pound spent by Unicef UK only 1p was spent on governance of the charity.
£5.50 could feed a child with severe malnutrition for a week. £10 could buy books, pens and pencils to support the education of a child for a year. If you cannot feed a hundred children, then start with just one.
For the 31st anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF gives us the opportunity to reimagine a world where every child has the opportunity to speak up and be heard. It is always the poorest and the most vulnerable people who suffer the most from a crisis. This year, COVID-19 has affected millions of lives. The impact of this pandemic on vulnerable children has been immediate and, if unaddressed, could last a lifetime. Among many different development goals, UNICEF has five main priorities: Children’s Education, Nutrition, Health, Safety and Equality.
“Every child has the right to an education. Children should be encouraged to go to school to the highest level possible. Children’s education should help them fully develop their personalities, talents and abilities. It should teach them to understand their own rights, and to respect other people’s rights, cultures and differences.” Art.28 & 29, Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The pandemic has caused an unparalleled disruption to education globally. More than 1.5 billion students were affected by never-before-seen school closures. As of today, many governments have resorted to national lockdowns to fight against the second wave of this deadly virus. Although many European countries decided to keep schools and universities open, a large majority of the world’s student population from under-developed and economically disadvantaged countries (463 million students) have been unable to benefit from remote learning, reinforcing deep inequalities in access to school. Education is under threat, today more than ever. At this make-or-break point, we must ensure children can go back to school safely to continue their education and include better measures for distance learning if possible.
“Children have the right to food, clothing and a safe place to live so they can develop in the best possible way. The government should help families and children who cannot afford this.” Art.27, Convention on the Rights of the Child
For every child and young person, food is not only the most essential aspect of life but a right that they are born with. The very foundation of “healthy bodies and healthy minds make futures” requires a child to be at least adequately fed. UNICEF works hard, but still too many children are missing out on the nutrition they need. A failure in their development is a cost to their future - and a cost to humanity.
In 2020, the idea that one in three children are undernourished and that two in three children are not getting the diets they need in early childhood to grow and develop to their full potential is alarming. “Why are healthy diets more expensive than unhealthy ones?” is a question that continues to be a significant hurdle. Providing access to nutrition throughout childhood from conception to adolescence is a critical part of UNICEF’s work and it always will be. Governments need to be alarmed and need to invest in nutrition policies, programmes and interventions. In addition to that, private sector innovations are more than necessary to ensure children and families have access to nutritious, safe, affordable and sustainable food and diets.
“Governments must protect children from violence, abuse and being neglected by anyone who looks after them.” Art.19, Conventions on the Rights of the Child.
Children should not experience any form of violence. Too many children live in dangerous areas, or in countries with armed conflicts. In Syria, for example, an estimated 4.7 million children need humanitarian assistance. They didn’t choose it, they can’t escape it, and they continue to pay the heaviest price even after nine years of conflict.
Physical violence is not the only threat to children’s protection. In the digital era, millions of children face racial discrimination and bullying, putting their mental health at risk with stress and anxiety. In areas around the world where conflict, violence, and massive physical devastation are daily threats, children are pushed into situations of self-harm, sickness and even suicide. Due to COVID-19, we more than ever, grow in an inter-connected world. Social media should neither be a place of fear, nor a place for bullying and harassment. Children have their rights and violence has no place in their lives.
“Children have the right to the best health care possible, clean water to drink, healthy food and a clean and safe environment to live in. All adults and children should have information about how to stay safe and healthy.” Art.24, Convention on the Rights of the Child
Children are the most vulnerable part of the population when an emergency strikes. Even though they are not the most at risk from COVID-19 itself, millions of children’s lives have been affected as a result of the pandemic and continue to be at risk. Schools have been shut down, and many children lost the opportunity to learn because of reduced access to computers and quality teaching.
At ESCP Business School, we students are at the helm of premium digital education, and we are lucky and privileged enough to pay for it. But for millions of children that is not the case. In many countries, children have also lost sources of daily nutrition, water and sanitation. Their last hope? UNICEF. The Organisation has set Sustainable Development Goals in order to help these children in need. Among the seventeen global goals for 2030, “maternal, newborn and child survival”, “strengthening health systems”, and “health in emergencies and humanitarian settings” are priorities, to name but a few.
Do you know that pneumonia can be prevented with vaccines and easily treated with low-cost antibiotics? How is it possible that 800,000 children were left to die from the disease last year? We do have solutions, but governments have to stand out in unity to employ them.
On World Children’s Day, we called on governments to adopt this Six-Point Plan to Protect Children:
1. Ensure all children learn, including closing the digital divide.
2. Guarantee access to health and nutrition services and make vaccines affordable and available to every child.
3. Support and protect the mental health of children and young people, and bring an end to abuse, gender-based violence, and neglect in childhood.
4. Increase access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, and address environmental degradation and climate change.
5. Reverse the rise in child poverty and ensure an inclusive recovery for all.
6. Redouble efforts to protect and support children and their families living through conflict, disaster and displacement.
Contrary to what many people think, UNICEF is not funded by the United Nations but entirely by individuals, corporations and government contributions. We at UNICEF ESCP London also hope to contribute to make a difference. You can join our events and contribute to the capacity you are able. No donation - however small - is ever wasted. Young people around the world are shouting for world leaders to hear, to listen and to act.
Together, we can be the loudspeakers that turn our voices into real change, into policies, programmes, laws and investments that keep children safe. Our generation is the most connected and the most outspoken and open-minded the world has ever seen. We have the power to innovate, to create and to achieve lasting change for ourselves and for our world. With quality learning and the right skills, we can do anything! Because children’s rights matter, because they must be protected, because children are the future of humanity, and because the children of the world are asking us to stand with UNICEF.
On World Children’s Day, we informed, we raised awareness, and we spoke out to make our world a better, healthier, safer, stronger place for all.
What will you do?
You can support the UNICEF ESCP Society’s fundraising initiative by making a donation here.
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