UNICEF celebrates 75th Anniversary by re-imagining the future for every child

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready…

UNICEF Zimbabwe joins the world to “re-Imagine a future for children” as it celebrates 75 years of protecting children’s rights and helping children – in many of the most challenging places across the world – to survive, thrive, and reach their full potential.

UNICEF was established on 11 December in 1946, after the Second World War. Its mandate was to provide children affected by the war with relief and to ensure their rights were protected. It has grown into a truly global organization working in over 190 countries and serving the most vulnerable.

UNICEF started its mission in Zimbabwe in 1982, and in 1990, the Government of Zimbabwe ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). By so doing, it made a commitment to protect and promote the rights of all children in Zimbabwe. In 2013, the newly drafted Constitution included a Children’s Bill of Rights, ensuring that children’s rights were a fundamental part of the guiding principles of the country.

Acting Child President, Kimberly Gudhlanga at a recent event in Victoria Falls marking UNICEF’s anniversary and World Children’s Day, highlighted the true meaning behind the tenants of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“Every time a child’s interests are safeguarded, every time you make the tiniest bit of effort to improve the lives of children, you add light and healing to your own,” she said in her speech.

UNICEF commemorates its 75th year at a critical time as the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic – a crisis affecting children in many negative ways. COVID-19 has forced children out of school, thrown families into greater poverty and increased the risks of gender-based violence for children – to name a few.

The deep disparity in recovery from the pandemic is increasing the socio-economic vulnerability of children. But this has created new opportunities to adopt innovative and resilient ways to move forward by creating systems that protect and safeguard all children against shocks and stresses like the COVID-19 outbreak.

“As we strive to reimagine a world for children and celebrate our 75th anniversary, we encourage and count on the children and young people of Zimbabwe to continue to co-create solutions with UNICEF, its partners and ultimately with the Government, so that together we can advance results for children in the country,” said UNICEF Zimbabwe Representative, Dr. Tajudeen Oyewale.

This year, UNICEF Zimbabwe jointly commemorates UNICEF’s 75th Anniversary and World Children’s Day, (which took place in late November). The events, which culminated in the lighting blue of the Victoria Falls Bridge alongside many landmarks around the world, were officiated by the Vice President of Zimbabwe, and Minister of Health and Child Care, H.E. General (Rtd) Dr. Constantine Chiwenga. The event celebrated the voices of children and call upon the Government and all the people of Zimbabwe to re-commit to the rights of every child.

“The future and development of our country lie in the hands of our children. It is our collective responsibility that we create a conducive environment that allows them to reach their full potential,” H.E the Vice President said.

At the event, Canadian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, H.E. Christina Buchan, commended UNICEF’s global achievements on behalf of the international community and donors. “Canada is pleased to be among the top ten donors for UNICEF globally. What sticks out most in my mind when I think of UNICEF is the dedication to getting results and to changing lives across the whole spectrum of issues that affect children – whether it’s healthcare, clean water, food, or protecting children.”

Also speaking on behalf of the SADC Ambassadors at the event, Tanzanian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, H.E. Prof Emmanuel Mbennah said that he wants children to reach their full potential and emphasised the need to continue to provide essential services for all children, especially the most vulnerable. “We congratulate UNICEF worldwide for its 75th birthday. This is not simply a number of years in existence. Through the work across 75 years, UNICEF has been a bridge and mechanism for the successes of millions of the children of the world,” he said.

This milestone provides an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come over the past 75 years, reaffirm UNICEF’s role as a leader and convener of child rights, and look forward to a future with continuous and effective programmes for children.