Want World Peace and Prosperity? Invest in Children

May 1, 2020

Supporting UNICEF is bigger than any political statement or strategy. It's a way of recognizing that when children are able to survive and thrive, the benefits extend well beyond borders. 

For over 70 years, UNICEF has been a fierce advocate for children's rights, working to help meet their basic needs and expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. 

UNICEF's mission — to mobilize resources and work with low- and middle-income country governments to build their capacity to deliver for children and families, particularly the vulnerable and disadvantaged — is not a political statement or strategy. It is a universal imperative. It is fundamental to human progress, peace and prosperity. 

This is an important distinction that can be lost amid heated political discourse, especially in an election year. Investing in children requires taking the long view. It's about building strength and resilience and laying a foundation for the future. Because when children grow up healthy and well-nourished and educated, societies and economies flourish.

Students attending class in Turgani High School in Faizabad, the largest city of Badakhshan, a northern province of Afghanistan. Working at national, provincial and community levels with the Ministry of Education and other partners, UNICEF focuses on the most vulnerable people in disadvantaged areas, particularly girls, to combat exclusion due to poverty, discrimination and conflict. © UNICEF/UN0339504/Dejongh

The idea that investing in young children globally is the key to sustainable development and international security is nothing new. Much has been written about how supporting early childhood development is essential for reducing poverty and violence and promoting social equality.

UNICEF's efforts with partners to safeguard children's health through immunization and other high-impact interventions have helped drastically reduce child deaths, from 12 million in 1990 to 5.3 million in 2018. Support for education has helped boost primary school enrollment rate up to over 90 percent in low- and middle-income countries.

UNICEF works in vulnerable districts in Cambodia's Kratie and Ratanakiri provinces and in Phnom Penh to help meet the needs of pregnant women, babies and young children like 4-year-old Nom Som, who lives with his mother in Okapel village, Ratanakiri. © UNICEF/UN0222197/Brown

And yet children continue to die from preventable causes. Conflicts and other humanitarian emergencies are uprooting children and families in record numbers. Climate change and environmental degradation are increasing the spread of disease and the scale of natural disasters.

And now leaders are warning that the COVID-19 pandemic could set back years of progress.

Children carry food in Bol, Chad, one of more than 190 countries and territories where UNICEF works to save and protect vulnerable children. © UNICEF/UN0294568/Dejongh

UNICEF remains committed to working with its partners all around the world to take on these challenges and keep delivering for children. And UNICEF won't stop until every child is safe, healthy and protected.

When choosing a cause to support this year, choose children over politics. Peace and prosperity depend on children surviving and thriving.

Learn more about UNICEF's support for early childhood education (ECE) as one of the smartest investments countries can make.

Help UNICEF take action. 

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Top photo: Mariama lives in the village of Gondama in Sierra Leone's Bo District. UNICEF works with local authorities and other partners in health, nutrition, education and other areas critical to its overarching mission: to save and protect the world's most vulnerable children. © UNICEF/UN072236/Phelps