UNICEF USA’s Advocacy Priorities in 2021 and Beyond

January 11, 2021

How we'll lift the voices of every child in the new administration and Congress.

Politicians come and go, but advocacy to support the needs and rights of every child remains constant. As UNICEF USA looks ahead to the Biden administration and 117th Congress, we aim to build on the achievements of the previous Congress to push forward progress for children. UNICEF USA’s advocacy is directly in line with our organizational mission: To relentlessly pursue an equitable world for every child.

COVID-19 has upended essential services that secure the health, education and protection of our children and young people. Though children may be less susceptible to the virus itself, children are the hardest hit by its global impacts. COVID-19 is above all a child rights crisis. 

The Great Equalizers: UNICEF's four long-term global advocacy priorities 

Recognizing the new realities facing children, UNICEF has developed four long-term global advocacy priorities. These priorities represent ‘great equalizers,’ where swift action for children will have the most significant impact on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. They build on UNICEF’s existing program and advocacy strengths and tap into growing public demand that these vital priorities be addressed.

Education

In the coming year, UNICEF will drive a global advocacy effort to tackle the learning crisis, prioritizing the most vulnerable and marginalized children, and work to close the digital divide.

UNICEF USA will continue to advocate for bills such as the Keeping Girls in School Act to ensure the most vulnerable children have access to education and can remain in school. Pandemic-related school closures have also necessitated advocacy on digital connectivity, on which UNICEF USA will work to raise awareness. To reimagine education for the 21st century, we must overcome the digital divide and safeguard quality education for every child.

Immunization

UNICEF is building a global movement for vaccine affordability, availability and equity as a contribution to the overall strengthening of health systems and improved health outcomes for all children.

The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred massive health service disruptions including a decline in the number of children receiving lifesaving vaccines around the world. While UNICEF USA rallies support for UNICEF’s role in procuring and distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to people in low- and middle-income countries, we’ll be simultaneously advocating for funding and policies focused on maternal and child health more broadly to generate demand for and access to other vaccines including polio and measles.;

Mental Health

UNICEF is working to secure investment and action to support and protect the mental health of children and young people, and to bring an end to neglect, abuse and childhood traumas that drive poor life outcomes.

Even prior to the pandemic, 1 in 5 of the world’s children and adolescents experienced some form of mental health condition. UNICEF USA is already advocating for increased investment in mental health services around the globe, including in the U.S. In the new year, we will work with Congressional champions and partners to introduce legislation that focuses on strengthening violence prevention and mental health within U.S. foreign assistance.

A Cleaner, Safer Environment

In 2021, UNICEF is working with governments, businesses and communities to increase access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, and address environmental degradation and climate change, for a safe and sustainable environment as envisioned by children and young people. 

To save and protect children's long-term health and well-being, UNICEF USA is calling for greater financing to adapt and increase the resilience of services that children depend upon most. Moreover, UNICEF USA will work to ensure that children — and other vulnerable populations — are at the center of policy-making efforts to address environmental degradation and climate change.

As a National Committee of UNICEF, UNICEF USA will elevate these priorities with officials at all levels of government. Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive. In 2021, we will also continue advocacy to support the protection of Dreamers and child migrants, to end child marriage within the United States and to anticipate and respond to large-scale issues affecting children.

UNICEF USA's #1 priority: advocating for ongoing U.S. Government support for UNICEF through annual appropriations

UNICEF USA's number #1 priority remains: advocating for ongoing U.S. Government support for UNICEF through the annual appropriations process.Congress maintained the $134 million voluntary contribution to UNICEF in FY21. Following 2020, a year that challenged the world like no other, that minimum level of funding is still needed to support UNICEF’s vital work in 190 countries and territories.

We urge our supporters to join us in campaigns throughout the year to achieve policy results for children. Please visit our Action Center to learn more and get started.

Top photo: In March 2019, UNICEF USA supporters from 39 states traveled to Washington, D.C. to urge elected officials to maintain support for UNICEF's lifesaving programs for children around the world. © UNICEF USA