Children's Rights and Business | UNICEF USA

Business and COVID-19:

Businesses have an important role to play in protecting children's rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage companies to consider children in their response and business decisions in the days, weeks and months ahead. UNICEF and partners have developed initial recommendations on:

How employers can strengthen support for families and employees can leverage the new Intrapreneurship Guide during the pandemic.

Protecting children online -- with more than 150 billion children around the world out of school and relying on digital solutions.

We have also considered what the corona virus outbreak tells us about the importance of family-friendly policies in the United States.

Better Business for Children

UNICEF and UNICEF USA are seeking to change business behavior and practices as they affect children by collaborating with a range of stakeholders, including companies, governments, civil society, children and young people.

Our work is based on the Child Rights and Business Principles, which outline the private sector’s responsibilities to children in the workplace, the marketplace, the community and the environment.

The graphic below illustrates how integrating children's rights into business practices creates positive impact in many arenas — via a "virtuous" cycle — for children and their families.

Our Approach to Children's Rights and Business

To achieve better business for children, UNICEF and UNICEF USA advocate that companies "mainstream" children's rights in the following ways.

I. Advocacy

  • Co-create tools for industry adoption
  • Engage peer companies, governments and policy makers and influencers via thought leadership
  • Use your convening power to bring together key children's rights stakeholders

II. Taking Action on Research Findings

  • Engage in policy development
  • Collaborate with stakeholders to promote change
  • Foster digital literacy and awareness

III. Building An Evidence-Base

  • Engage in and/or support country-level research
  • Enable child consultations
  • Review internal policies and processes

Opportunities for Companies to Join with UNICEF and UNICEF USA

Companies can join with UNICEF and UNICEF USA by:

  • contributing to our knowledge base through participating in, or funding, our research;

  • helping to test tools and programs by joining pilot initiatives;

  • understanding your impact on children and taking action to address those impacts;

  • using the policies, practices and tools that UNICEF has developed to help implement better business for children; and

  • becoming a champion for children’s rights within industry, among other peer organizations and in the public square.

Areas of Focus for our Children's Rights and Business Initiative

I. Empowering Children in a Digital Age

Below, watch a video on strategies for empowering — and protecting — children in the ever-expanding, global digital environment.

We seek to ensure that children benefit from opportunities to become engaged digital citizens through information and communications technologies (ICT), and are protected from exploitation and harm in relation to the development and usage of ICT products and services.

To help promote children’s rights in a digital age, UNICEF and UNICEF USA:

  • Have launched a discussion paper series that explores the relationship between children’s rights, business and the Internet;

  • Convene companies, NGOs, academia, government and young people to gather feedback and develop best policies and practices; and

  • Partner with companies to pilot good practices.

Below, you can view, download, and share on social media our new industry toolkit — offering resources to online service providers, game and toy brands, mobile operators, device manufacturers, and other companies — on how best to protect and empower children online.

II. Child Rights in Global Supply Chains

Global supply chains of business have significant impact — directly and indirectly — on children. This impact extends beyond child labor to the effect of parental working and living conditions on children, and how supply chains affect the community and environment in which businesses operate and children live.

In order to address the global supply chain impacts, UNICEF is launching initiatives on child rights and global supply chains, including in the apparel and footwear industries in Bangladesh and Vietnam, palm oil production in Indonesia and Malaysia, tea farming in India and cocoa farming in Côte d'Ivoire. These pilot programs serve to research, test, and model best practice in relation to:

1. Workplace practices that deliver for children and working parents — including interventions to promote breastfeeding for working mothers, child labor in deeper supply chains, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in the workplace, child-care solutions and more.

2. Models of community interventions that improve living conditions and access to basic services for working families in cities and the countryside. This initiative will also explore opportunities for relevant partnerships between business and local authorities that promote child rights and well-being.

3. Joint action and advocacy plans to promote an enabling environment for children's rights and global supply chains. UNICEF and UNICEF USA will convene stakeholders to test innovative solutions, address systemic challenges and achieve impact at scale.

Our work is being carried out in partnership with governments, NGOs, academia, thought leaders and other influencers, local manufacturers, international brands and affected communities.