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New Government, New Possibilities

February 2, 2021

UNICEF USA supporters come together to kick off advocacy in 2021.

On January 21, nearly 200 UNICEF USA supporters came together for our first advocacy webinar of 2021. The focus of the webinar was how to advocate to the new Congress and Biden-Harris administration in support of UNICEF's work and policy priorities. Most excitingly, newly-elected Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA) joined the conversation to discuss her experience as a new member of Congress and her goals for this term. Prior to serving in Congress, Rep. Jacobs had worked for the UNICEF Office of Innovation. Her work contributed to Project Connect, an initiative to map school connectivity across the global to advocate for equitable access to internet. 

Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA) joins the UNICEF USA advocacy team for the first webinar of 2021. Clockwise from lower right: Rep. Jacobs, Ryan Sasse, Rebecca Hinkhouse, Mark Engman.

Highlights from the discussion with Congresswoman Jacobs include:

  • On what made her run for office: “You know, it really was about realizing that if we want a new generation of leaders, if we want more young people and more women, then at some point, I need to stop writing talking points for other people to say, and start saying these things myself.”
  • On support for UNICEF’s immunization efforts: “I’m hopeful that even with COVID-19 setbacks, the precedent set for combating preventable diseases will continue. Making sure vaccines get out to every country in the world [is vital] and I know UNICEF has pioneered the way vaccines have been distributed in the past.”
  • On speaking up for children: “There’s no natural constituency for children's issues; they don't get a vote. I’m pushing to make sure that it [children’s issues] is a priority. I'm so grateful for all you're doing.

The webinar offered the opportunity to remind UNICEF USA supporters of the necessity to advocate annually for the U.S. government's voluntary contribution to UNICEF.

The webinar also illuminated the "why" behind our advocacy work. While going in-depth on UNICEF USA's 2021 policy priorities, several attendees were dismayed to learn that only four U.S. states have passed laws to end child marriage with zero exceptions. This year, we'll work with partners to end child marriage across the U.S., aiming for passage of bright line legislation in one of five key states: NY, MA, DC, HI and MI. 

Finally, Mark Engman, UNICEF USA's Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy, energized the group, remarking on our approach to advocacy: "You're not just voices to Congress, you're ambassadors in your communities for UNICEF. You have real power to create change for children."

Learn more about how UNICEF USA advocates on behalf of children to support their rights, ensure safe and healthy childhoods in safe and inclusive communities, and build strong futures.

Top photo: In Nassau, Bahamas, children evacuated in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian participate in activities organized by UNICEF' partner organization, IsraAid. © UNICEF/UNI205415/Noorani