In 2000, following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations, 193 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations agreed to achieve something called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the year 2015.
The eight MDGs are a commitment by the UN to establish peace and a healthy global economy by setting specific targets on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS reduction and a ‘Global Partnership for Development.’ Each of the goals has defined targets and dates for achieving those targets.
Progress towards reaching the goals has been uneven. Some countries have achieved many of the goals, while others are not on track to realize any. A UN conference in September 2010 reviewed progress to date and concluded with the adoption of a global action plan to achieve the eight anti-poverty goals by their original 2015 target date. It included new commitments on women's and children's health, as well as new initiatives in the worldwide battle against poverty, hunger, and disease.
UNICEF is one of many organizations working to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. While the MDGs are for all humankind, they are primarily about children, in part because children are the most vulnerable when essentials like food, water, and healthcare are scarce. Children are often the first victims when basic needs are not met. Six of the eight goals relate directly to children. This is where UNICEF comes in, working to promote and protect children’s rights and their well-being around the world.
UNICEF works toward comprehensive child health care in the earliest years of a child’s life. Priority areas include immunization, preventing and controlling malaria, controlling and treating diarrheal and respiratory diseases, and preventing anemia. UNICEF provides vaccines to children in developing countries, while providing technical support through the delivery process. Because of UNICEF’s work, millions of children are protected from diseases such as measles, polio, and tuberculosis.
UNICEF also works with countries, governments and other UN agencies to promote, fund and facilitate universal primary education and gender equality. This involves improving children’s readiness for school, especially for excluded children and disadvantaged groups, through community-sponsored childhood education and health initiatives.
UNICEF certainly has strength in global partnerships—working with many groups to strengthen existing national and local policies that ensure children’s rights to survive and flourish. Reducing child poverty is crucial to fulfilling these rights.
While major progress has been made towards achieving these goals, we still have a long way to go. This Friday, April 5, marks the 1000-day milestone towards the Millennium Development Goals. On that day, individuals, organizations, and institutions will mount a global 1,000-minute digital media rally to raise awareness and inspire action around the MDGs. The social media campaign will feature 1,000 consecutive minutes of digital engagement through activities like Twitter chats, Facebook Q&As, and Google Hangouts. Organizations will rally their supporters to share their stories about what has been working and what can be done to advance the MDGs moving forward in the post-2015 agenda.
We invite you to commit to joining the community of activism on Friday and support a global movement to make our world a better place. Check out our DO for more information on how you can participate.