UNICEF in Brazil
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The mission of UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund) is to ensure that the rights of each and every child and adolescent are fulfilled, respected and protected. Established in 1946 to help in the reconstruction of countries that had suffered most during the Second World War, UNICEF started to work in other countries four years later. Today, UNICEF is the leading advocate for children’s rights, active in 190 countries through country programmes and National Committees.
UNICEF has been working in Brazil since 1950, in partnership with municipal, state and federal governments, civil society, religious groups, the private sector, the media, and international organizations, including other United Nations agencies, to defend the rights of all Brazilian girls and boys.
UNICEF’s work includes a substantive contribution to development through the articulation, monitoring and evaluation, and promotion of public policies for children and adolescents. UNICEF carries out its role objectively and responsibly, guaranteeing the transparency of its actions and developing its programme based on up-to-date survey data. These data enable UNICEF to carry out an accurate diagnosis and analysis of the current situation of children and adolescents in the country.
UNICEF’s Programme of Cooperation with Brazil (2007–2011)
In the countries in which it operates, UNICEF builds its five-year Programme of Cooperation together with government, civil society, and children and adolescents. UNICEF Country Programmes aim to provide positive, sustainable solutions to the problems faced by children and adolescents in the country, with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) used as a benchmark for UNICEF’s work during the five year period of the Programme.
To establish goals, targets and cooperation priorities with Brazil for the 2007–2011 period, UNICEF set up a highly participative programme involving partners and actors who are relevant to the ‘childhood rights guarantee system’. Due to the vast, continental size of the country, a series of regional meetings were held with the aim of constructing an overview of how children and adolescents live in the different regions of Brazil. The programme fits within the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), which aims to bring synergy and strengthen partnerships and joint programmes undertaken by UNICEF and other United Nations agencies that operate in the country.
During the process of defining solutions for childhood-related problems, the Country Programme goals and objectives for 2007–2011 converged directly with the recommendations expressed in national policy documents designed to positively transform the lives of Brazilian children and adolescents. The partnership between UNICEF and the Brazilian government, with its focus on childhood and adolescence, reflects the commitments of the Millennium Declaration, the MDGs, the ’Pacto Pela Paz’, and the Child Friendly President's Plan of Action.
Priorities for 2007 – 2011
To help Brazil advance towards the universalization of the rights of every girl and boy, and to strengthen the capacity of the social actors involved in guaranteeing these rights, UNICEF continues to work with governments, civil society, the private sector, the media, and other international organizations to realize the right of each and every Brazilian child and adolescent to:
Survive and develop
This goal is directly linked to UNICEF’s mission to help reduce the infant mortality rate. Therefore, it is UNICEF’s priority to guarantee that 21 million Brazilian children, from the prenatal stage up to 6 years of age, are ensured their rights to survive, to have a birth certificate, to be given care and protection, and to fully develop. Investing in early childhood has a decisive impact on children’s survival, growth and on the development of their learning potential. Studies have shown, for example, that for every dollar invested in early childhood, seven dollars will be saved in public compensation and social welfare policies.
Brazil has a high rate of children who have access to school. However, there are still 660,000 boys and girls who are not attending school, of whom 450,000 are afro-descendant children. Therefore, the country has to meet the challenge of effectively universalizing the right to access quality education, and also to ensuring that every child and adolescent has his or her right to learn guaranteed.
Protect oneself and others against HIV/AIDS
The Brazilian response to HIV/AIDS has been recognized as one of the best in the world. Major challenges remain, however, and these must be faced to ensure the universal coverage of prevention, treatment and care for Brazilian children, adolescents and their families.
Grow up without violence
Violence against children and adolescents can be found in the family, the community, the school and in socio-educational institutions. Many cases are neither reported nor investigated. This vulnerability is even greater amongst children and adolescents with special needs, as well as others, including afro-descendants, indigenous people, adolescents in conflict with the law, street children, and those living in the poor communities of large urban centres. UNICEF works to mobilize governments and society to transform this situation. In addition, UNICEF has supported improved reporting systems and stimulated specialized care, which strengthen both family and community life.
Be first priority in public policies
For there to be a true social transformation in the lives of children and adolescents, public policy priorities must include improving the lives and well-being of all children and adolescents. This is why UNICEF works to mobilize society to listen to and give opportunities to adolescents, and to teach adults to monitor and evaluate the correct allocation of resources going towards child and adolescent budgets in the federal, state and municipal level of government. This programme component has the clear goal of influencing the adoption of affirmative public policies to improve gender, race and ethnic equality.
The efforts put into guaranteeing children’s rights must also be understood from the point of view of historical regional disparities. Therefore, one cannot forget that to universalize rights, it is necessary to focus on the geographical areas of Brazil where the worst social indicators are concentrated, and where between 60% to more than 70% of children and adolescents live in poverty.
These areas are:
- The Brazilian Semi-Arid Region, home to 13 million children and adolescents, of whom more than 70% live in poverty
- The Amazon Region, home to 9 million children and adolescents with considerably different ethnic and social backgrounds, who live in vast, sparsely occupied areas in which economic, social and institutional development is precarious
- Poor communities in Brazil's large urban centres, home to 9 million children and adolescents, and where high levels of violence against children prevail.
UNICEF works throughout the country, but puts the majority of its human and institutional resources in these three priority geographical areas, to strengthen and stimulate Brazilian citizens to exercise their citizenship rights, transforming them into politically and socially active actors who can participate in the search for solutions to the problems affecting Brazilian children and adolescents.
UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
This is why UNICEF works on leveraging and mobilizing the resources and experience of a variety of different actors to help guarantee the rights of each and every child and adolescent in Brazil.
Around 50% of UNICEF’s budget in Brazil is obtained from the support of companies and individuals through donations, the purchase of UNICEF greeting cards and gifts, and other related actions.