Recently I saw a woman and her child huddled in a stairwell in the subway, shivering. They were malnourished and tired. Probably homeless. I couldn’t ignore what I saw. I admit, I’ve sometimes tuned out when people start talking about poverty statistics. But seeing it in front of you can be a wake-up call.
And then there are the people I don’t see. These are the “statistics” that also bear some thinking about. Read the statistics below. “They” have inspired me to act.
According to UNICEF, most of the people living in poverty are children:
- More than 30 percent of children in developing countries—about 600 million—live on less than $1 a day.
- Every 3.6 seconds one person dies of starvation. Usually it is a child under the age of five.
The world is acting. In September 2000, world leaders and representatives from close to 190 countries gathered at the UN in New York City to talk about the future. While some countries thrive, able to enjoy a strong and hopeful future, many developing countries suffer from the effects of sustained conflict, poverty, and environmental degradation. This takes its toll on the world’s poorest citizens—who lack basic human rights, things we tend to take for granted: health, education, shelter, and security.
World leaders adopted the Millennium Declaration, a blueprint that later became the Millennium Development Goals. These goals promote a strong and healthy future for everyone.
The UN, world leaders, and many partnering organizations, celebrities, and average citizens are working toward many of these goals by 2015:
- End extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieve universal primary education
- Promote gender equality and empower women
- Reduce child mortality
- Improve maternal health
- Combat HIV/Aids, malaria, and other diseases
- Ensure environmental sustainability
- Develop a global partnership for development
To reach the Millennium Goals, UNICEF is partnering with other UN agencies and global organizations around the world to promote and protect the rights of children and their well being. Children are the most vulnerable.
UNICEF is working to help:
- provide basic child health care, like vaccines
- deliver fresh water and basic medical supplies in emergencies
- promote early childhood learning and better access to childhood education
- improve the quality of education
- combat disease, such as HIV/AIDS
- strengthen schools, communities, and families so they can help children affected by disease, including orphans
What can we do? The list is endless. Here are a few places to start.
How to Get Involved:
See how you can get involved with the UN Millennium Campaign
Read about the UN Millennium Project
Learn about UNICEF’s role in the Millennium Development Goals
Learn how you can volunteer, donate, or contribute to UNICEF