The United Nations Children’s Fund on Thursday conferred the formal title of national goodwill ambassadors to actress-television host Anne Curtis and entrepreneur-TV host producer Daphne Oseña Paez.
“UNICEF goodwill ambassadors are well-known personalities who lend their influence for the well-being of children, who are willing to do their utmost to mobilize support for children. They are volunteers who demonstrate a high level of commitment to children and to the organization. We welcome Daphne and Anne into the UNICEF family as new UNICEF national goodwill ambassadors because of their strong dedication and drive for results for children throughout all these years,” UNICEF Philippines representative Lotta Sylwander said.
She lauded Paez’s advocacy for breastfeeding, maternal health, maternal mortality, universal primary education, nutrition and child protection.
On the other hand, Curtis was a major donor to UNICEF since 2009, and was appointed as a celebrity advocate in 2014, Sylwander said.
Curtis’ special projects with UNICEF included the Heroes for Children runs to support children’s First 1,000 Days, fundraising through international marathons and a children’s book to encourage reading and instilling confidence in one’s self.
Curtis, however, lamented that sanitation and proper hygiene in different communities is still a big problem.
“How sadly, there are still some families without access to clean water and toilet in our country,” she said.
Being a UNICEF advocate, she said “each day that passes, I learn more about the growing issues that our children are facing today.”
She said she was alarmed by the issue to lower the minimum age for criminal liability “out of genuine concern for the children.”
“If only the (existing) laws are fully implemented, there would no more need to lower the age for criminal responsibility,” she added.
Meanwhile, the International Labor Organization said that only 1 in 3 children across the world are covered by social protection which could help them escape poverty and its devastating effects.
In a joint report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and International Labor Organization (ILO), data showed that cash transfers play a vital role in breaking the vicious cycle of poverty, but only 35 per cent of children on average are covered by social protection.
Across regions, social protection covers 87 percent in Europe and Central Asia, 66 percent in the Americas, 28 percent in Asia and 16 percent in Africa, the report said.
It added that 1 in 5 children lives in extreme poverty with less than $1.90 or around P99 a day; while almost half of the world’s children live in “moderate” poverty with under $3.10 or P162 a day.
“Poverty hits children the hardest, since its consequences can last a lifetime,” said Alexandra Yuster, UNICEF Associate Director and Chief of Social Policy.
“The poor nutrition and lost years of education that often result are tragic both for the individual and for his or her community and society,” she added.
ILO and UNICEF said universal social protection for children is not a privilege for wealthy countries, but also of other developing countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mongolia and South Africa.
However, the report said social protection programs for children in many other countries remain with limited coverage, inadequate benefit levels, fragmentation and weak institutionalization.
Some governments are even cutting allowances, instead of extending benefits as countries had agreed in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it added.
ILO and UNICEF are calling for a rapid expansion of benefits and SDGs to improve access to nutrition, health and education, as well as reduce child labor, poverty and vulnerability.
“Countries need to put children first and reach every child with social protection to end poverty for good,” said Yuster.
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