UNICEF's Work in Child Protection
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) began its work in 1946. It was born as an agency whose mission was to provide relief to children who suffered the collateral damage of the Second World War. In a short time, the mission expanded and today UNICEF’s work has spread to 57 countries around the world. This also includes developed countries.
UNICEF’s priority is to ensure the fulfillment of children’s fundamental rights and their protection. Children’s rights were defined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is a document that sets out the fundamental basis for all the actions undertaken by the United Nations agency on behalf of children around the world.
In the following article, we’ll be looking at some of the ways UNICEF seeks to protect children and their rights.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child
This is undoubtedly one of the most universal treaties in history in the provisions it sets out on children’s rights and civil liberties. Among these provisions are guidelines concerning the family environment, health, education, recreation, and culture. It also contains some fundamental measures to promote the protection of children.
The guiding principles of the Convention are non-discrimination, the best interests of the child, the right to life, survival and development, and also the right to participation. The treaty is thus divided into three types of rights. These are:
- The right to survival and development
- The right to protection
- And, finally, the right to participation
UNICEF’s work to protect children follows the values and principles defined in this treaty. They’re also based on experience and research. In particular, we can highlight how they focus on ensuring that children get the best possible start in life, and also on their survival and development.
UNICEF’s work to promote child survival and development
Child survival and development is one of UNICEF’s most important lines of action in its child protection work. In this sense, the agency seeks to fulfill the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 6. Specifically, these are the reduction of child mortality and the fight against malaria.
To achieve these goals, one of UNICEF’s main goals is to ensure that young children receive adequate medical care, even before they’re born. This health protection should be comprehensive.
To meet these goals and protect children, UNICEF promotes and provides technical and financial support to a variety of national and community programs. This aid is focused on education and intervention programs that focus on health and nutrition, among other very important aspects.
Priority is given to immunization programs and to the prevention of diseases such as malaria or anemia. It also focuses on the fight against diseases such as chronic diarrhea or respiratory diseases. Programs that include care for pregnant women, and childbirth and post-natal care are also a priority.
Basic education and gender equality
Education has a very prominent place among all of UNICEF’s activities in protecting children. It works in partnership with national governments and other UN agencies. It’s all about promoting and allocating funds for activities related to universal primary education and gender equality.
The priority is, thus, on excluded children and those belonging to vulnerable or disadvantaged groups. UNICEF supports all actions that contribute to improving the education of these children. This also includes all health and educational initiatives aimed at improving the developmental capacity of children who are starting school.
Another fundamental part of UNICEF’s actions in protecting children is gender equality. Efforts in this regard are to encourage and support local programs and to promote equal rights between boys and girls. The aim is to reduce both gender discrimination and other similar inequalities.