As we wrap up this tumultuous year, we wish everybody in our UNICEF USA family good health and good spirits, and the resilience we all need to make it through this pandemic.
We know that UNICEF fights to protect children’s lives and rights in vulnerable places around the world. When COVID-19 hit, UNICEF didn’t give up, it redoubled its efforts for children – and so did we.
UNICEF USA’s Advocacy Team supports UNICEF’s mission by advocating for government policies and funding that help UNICEF and children. Our Advocacy Team worked hard in 2020 to reinforce UNICEF’s expertise, credibility and effectiveness with policymakers on Capitol Hill. In March, UNICEF USA’s Anucha Browne testified before a Congressional committee in support of UNICEF funding — literally the last public event before Capitol Hill closed down in response to the coronavirus.
We made the sudden shift to a virtual environment, hosting online Congressional briefings with UNICEF experts on education and digital connectivity, child labor in the cocoa industry, and global water and sanitation needs.
Our work with UNICEF on Capitol Hill is important, but we could not do this without YOU — our advocates and supporters in communities across the country. Your relationships and engagements as constituents with Congressional offices reinforce their understanding of UNICEF’s priorities, and remind them that voters (and potential voters) care about UNICEF. During the pandemic, you held dozens of virtual meetings with Congressional offices, including several with Members of Congress themselves!
Together we helped Congress come together on issues that matter to children. In December, Congress passed government funding legislation (“appropriations”) that included $134 million as the U.S. Government voluntary contribution to UNICEF's core resources, our top legislative priority. Also, at the last minute, Congress passed the Global Child Thrive Act to strengthen the implementation of policies that advance early childhood development (ECD) in foreign assistance programs. This bill was a priority for UNICEF USA, because UNICEF believes ECD is essential to providing a fair start in life for every child. In addition, thanks to your voices, we made progress on several other pieces of legislation:
While most of our work focuses on vulnerable children in poor countries around the world, UNICEF USA recognizes that children in the United States have the same rights as children everywhere, and that we have a responsibility to address issues that affect children here where we can make a difference.
UNICEF USA continued to be a strong voice for the protection of migrant children in our communities and on our border. We were important players in the effort to end child marriage in two more states — Pennsylvania and Minnesota — in 2020; and we are proud to work with Zonta International to help pass laws to end child marriage in more states next year.
We launched UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative in the United States, with five communities across the country committing to use a child rights framework to make better decisions for children, WITH children.
Finally, UNICEF USA mobilized thousands of youth supporters and advocates to ask our Presidential candidates to share a Vision for Children, and helped citizens across the country register to vote through our Civic Action Center.
Thank you for your hope and your action in 2020. In 2021, with a new Congress and a new administration, we look forward to fighting with you for UNICEF’s priorities and making a difference for the world’s children.
For the latest ways you can advocate #ForEveryChild in the new year, continue to check our Action Center at act.unicefusa.org.
Top photo: Mohammad Rifat, 12, (shirtless, center) and his friends race toy cars down a sandy stretch of trail in Shamlapur camp, Cox's Bazar District, Bangladesh in April 2018. © UNICEF/UN0205214/Sokol