UNICEF India

UNICEF has been working in India since 1949 advocating for the rights of children and young people.

For more information, please visit: http://www.unicef.in, http://instagram.com/unicefindia
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41% children drop out of school before reaching Class 8 and the drop rate  is even higher  for children from Scheduled Castes (43%,) and Scheduled Tribes (55%).

Education is the great driver of social, economic and political progress. As people learn to read, count and reason critically, their prospects for health and prosperity expand exponentially. But the advances in education have not benefited everyone equally.

With the deadline of the Education For All goals approaching, 2014 is the year of a final push towards ensuring quality access and literacy. The Right to Education has been a key development and should be strengthened for widest reach.

Improving school implementation rates and learning outcomes by reducing gender and other social disparities, and improving the quality coverage of pre-school should be a priority.

#Education4All

There are an estimated 8.1 million children out of school and millions more who do not attend school regularly, the majority of these belong to disadvantaged groups. (Data: All India survey of out-of-school children of age 6-13 years, SRI-IMRB, 2010).

United Nations in India believe that this can be changed by:

-Addressing the issue of out-of-school children (OOSC) within #Education4All agenda to improve statistical information and analysis on out of school children and analyse the factors of exclusion and relevant policies.
-Inclusive and coordinated planning and implementation of RTE, especially for the most marginalised (Dalits, Tribals, children with disabilities, Girls, Minorities, Child Labour, children from areas affected by civil strife).
-Increasing access of adolescents to secondary education with a focus on reducing gender and social disparities.

-It is equally crucial to ensure that the most deprived and marginalised communities are themselves empowered to demand essential services.

It’s International Literacy Day Today!

Through the months of August and July, to mark this special occasion and start a discourse on the Right To Learn, art competitions were held in various schools that partnered with the United Nations in India. We are sharing some of the finalists here with you.

Do let us know what you think of them?

#Education4All

Stockholm, 3 September 2014 – Speakers at an event organized by UNICEF around World Water Week in Stockholm challenged the way international development partners and governments currently approach talking about open defecation and highlighted the role social media platforms can play in creating social norms, particularly in a world dominated by the power of connectivity.

People find talking about open defecation difficult and this is especially so in India where issues of caste, religion and generational norms prevail. For an issue that is too difficult for swathes of India’s population to even mention, the statistics are shocking. Just under half of India’s population - 595 million people do not use a toilet. The negative impact contributes to 61 million stunted children under five, needless deaths due to diarrheal disease; loss of privacy and dignity for women.

Sue Coates, Chief Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), UNICEF India opened the session. “If we want the 1 billion people without access to a toilet to change their behaviour, we need at least another 2 billion people to be talking about an issue that impacts all of us,” she stated.

Rose George, journalist and author of The Big Necessity, who moderated the discussion said that sanitation is a human right, an issue that cannot be ignored anymore. “We all are part of the problem and, thus, cannot turn a blind eye to it. Unless we talk openly about crap, the stigma will continue and children will continue to die from something as easily preventable as diarrhoea. This cause needs more champions to talk shit,” she said while praising the role of communication and social media platforms to promote societal and individual change.

And this is exactly what the Global Poverty Project is doing: growing the number and effectiveness of global citizens to achieve the public, business and political commitment and action to end extreme poverty. “When individuals take meaningful action, we can change the policies and practices that contribute to prevent people from access services. We are sure that the lack of access to sanitation will not be ended by charities, businesses or governments working alone. As citizens, we have a role to play. We have to raise our voices and trigger the change we want to see in society,” explained Stephen Brown, UK Director at the Global Poverty Project and Global Citizen.

Communication and media campaigns for sanitation are not new, especially in countries where open defecation is a common practice. However, campaigns that only target those without a toilet do not necessarily bring the issue to the rest of society.

“It is time to think differently. To end open defecation we need radical ideas that contribute to challenge the status quo and turn sanitation into an aspiration. Imagine the power for change if those who have access to toilets, actually did stand up and take action,” pointed out Thorsten Kiefer, Founder and Executive Director of WASH United.

While understanding the potential of using social media, Eddy Perez, Lead Sanitation Specialist with the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) of the World Bank raised some concerns. “There are some risks and attitudinal bottlenecks associated with challenging business as usual, particularly when talking about a sensitive issue like sanitation. Will the use of social media help us to broader and exponentially expand dialogues on taboo topics such as defecating in the open? If we take for example the Take Poo to the Loo campaign, developed in India by UNICEF, I suspect that those defecating in the open, around half of the Indian population, do not have access to smart phones or computers, so they cannot be part of this dialogue. Therefore, if we only use digital media, wouldn’t be contributing to increase the gap? And also, how do we measure results?” he asked.

Linda Patterson, Program Officer in Global Policy and Advocacy at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Francesca Covey, Strategic Partnerships Manager at Facebook, Internet.org, also participated at the event and talked about the different communication initiatives implemented in their organizations.

At his closing remarks, Sanjay Wijesekera, Chief of WASH, UNICEF, agreed on the challenges ahead about using innovative ways to communicate around open defecation but highlighted that to achieve results we have to do things differently. “Last May, the United Nations Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson launched a pioneering campaign to drive progress on sanitation. For this to happen, we cannot continue doing business as usual,” he concluded. 

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do.  Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. 

For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org and www.unicef.org/india

About the Take Poo to the Loo campaign

In late 2013 UNICEF India launched Take Poo to the Loo - poo2loo.com - asking India’s youth to make a noise about open defecation. This was done via the power of communities on social media; where friends talk with and listen to trusted friends. Going beyond the limits of traditional public awareness campaigns, in to new virtual communities and networks and back again, poo2loo has made a stink in India and across the world. You can find more information here:

www.poo2loo.com

www.facebook.com/poo2loo

www.twitter.com/poo2loo

www.youtube.com/user/takepoo2loo 

For more information, please contact:

Maria Fernandez,  Communication Specialist,  UNICEF India

Tel: +91-995 817 6291, Email: mfernandez@unicef.org

People find talking about open defecation difficult and this is especially so in India where issues of caste, religion and generational norms prevail. For an issue that is too difficult for swathes of India’s population to even mention, the statistics are shocking. Just under half of India’s population - 595 million people do not use a toilet. The negative impact is horrendous: 61 million stunted children under five, needless deaths due to diarrheal disease; loss of privacy and dignity for women. But, imagine the power for change if the remaining population – some 500 million people, actually did stand up to make a stink.

This is why in late 2013, UNICEF launched poo2loo.com asking India’s youth to make a noise about open defecation. 
And now, we’re taking it to the World Water Week in Stockholm! :D 
Here UNICEF will be hosting an event that aims to make a stink about the way international development partners and governments currently approach talking about open defecation. We want to get people excited about the power of connectivity and social media platforms to help create a new social norm – “we all use a toilet”. We want to open minds to what is possible, dispel the risks and excite everyone to talk about open defecation.
Bollywood stars come together in London to support children’s education in India
LONDON, UK, 21 August 2014 - Bollywood actress and UNICEF India Goodwill Ambassador Sharmila Tagore and actress and UNICEF Celebrity Advocate, Kareena Kapoor Khan are pictured with former BBC war correspondent and UNICEF UK Ambassador, Martin Bell OBE, and UNICEF UK Deputy Executive Director, Anita Tiessen at The Ritz on Wednesday evening (20th August) for a dinner to support UNICEF’s education work for children in India.Speaking at the event, Sharmila Tagore, who is celebrating ten years as a UNICEF India Ambassador, said; “Over the last ten years, I’ve seen first-hand, the work UNICEF does to ensure that the rights of every child are realised. Education is one such right. It is the passport to life; without it children are less healthy, less skilled, have fewer choices and less hope for their future. Yet, sadly, access to education still remains a challenge, for millions of children in India. I am privileged to be associated with UNICEF and support their work to improve the lives of children in India.”UNICEF India Celebrity Advocate, Kareena Kapoor, urged guests to pledge their support for UNICEF, commenting; “I recently visited Rajasthan with UNICEF to see child friendly schools and to meet some of the girls and boys that are benefitting from these programmes. I was inspired to see spaces which are child friendly. These are places where children are full of joy when they interact with teachers, where children feel safe and secure and where interactive and creative tools are used to ensure that children are happy and learning.”Anita Tiessen, UNICEF UK Deputy Executive Director, said; “Sadly quality education still remains a challenge in India, particularly for girls – where the dropout rate at primary level is 41%. This is often because of attitudes towards the value in girls having an education or schools not having adequate and safe sanitation facilities. When girls drop out of school they become more vulnerable to child marriage, early and unsafe pregnancies, and it has a lasting impact on their future earning power.“By working with the Government and partners to roll out our education programmes in India, UNICEF can ensure more children, both boys and girls, are going to school, learning, and have a better chance of reaching their full potential.”For more information about UNICEF UK please visitwww.unicef.org.uk<http://www.unicef.org.uk>Image: © UNICEF / Bircan Tulga / 2014

Bollywood stars come together in London to support children’s education in India

LONDON, UK, 21 August 2014 - Bollywood actress and UNICEF India Goodwill Ambassador Sharmila Tagore and actress and UNICEF Celebrity Advocate, Kareena Kapoor Khan are pictured with former BBC war correspondent and UNICEF UK Ambassador, Martin Bell OBE, and UNICEF UK Deputy Executive Director, Anita Tiessen at The Ritz on Wednesday evening (20th August) for a dinner to support UNICEF’s education work for children in India.

Speaking at the event, Sharmila Tagore, who is celebrating ten years as a UNICEF India Ambassador, said; “Over the last ten years, I’ve seen first-hand, the work UNICEF does to ensure that the rights of every child are realised. Education is one such right. It is the passport to life; without it children are less healthy, less skilled, have fewer choices and less hope for their future. Yet, sadly, access to education still remains a challenge, for millions of children in India. I am privileged to be associated with UNICEF and support their work to improve the lives of children in India.”

UNICEF India Celebrity Advocate, Kareena Kapoor, urged guests to pledge their support for UNICEF, commenting; “I recently visited Rajasthan with UNICEF to see child friendly schools and to meet some of the girls and boys that are benefitting from these programmes. I was inspired to see spaces which are child friendly. These are places where children are full of joy when they interact with teachers, where children feel safe and secure and where interactive and creative tools are used to ensure that children are happy and learning.”

Anita Tiessen, UNICEF UK Deputy Executive Director, said; “Sadly quality education still remains a challenge in India, particularly for girls – where the dropout rate at primary level is 41%. This is often because of attitudes towards the value in girls having an education or schools not having adequate and safe sanitation facilities. When girls drop out of school they become more vulnerable to child marriage, early and unsafe pregnancies, and it has a lasting impact on their future earning power.

“By working with the Government and partners to roll out our education programmes in India, UNICEF can ensure more children, both boys and girls, are going to school, learning, and have a better chance of reaching their full potential.”

For more information about UNICEF UK please visitwww.unicef.org.uk<http://www.unicef.org.uk>

Image: © UNICEF / Bircan Tulga / 2014

In his Independence Day Speech Prime Minister Narendra Modi put emphasis on the importance of Sanitation - of #toilets4all, and the need to protect the dignity of women who have to defecate in the open. 

Women and girls face shame, a loss of personal dignity and safety risk if there is no toilet at home. They have to wait for the night to relieve themselves to avoid being seen by others.

With half of the country defecating in the open, building toilets is important but it is just part of the solution. More importantly, mindsets have to be changed. A cultural revolution is needed to put an end to a practice that has a horrendous impact in society, including the 61 million stunted children under five and the needless deaths due to diarrheal disease.

We all have a role to play in ending open defecation. This is not only about those who don’t have toilets… stop for a second and imagine the power for change if the remaining population, some 500 million people, actually stand up and raise their voice.

Together we can work towards a cleaner India!

Due to the prevailing social and cultural norms, women and girls, have little or no value and respect, and have a lower socio-economic status.

An imbalanced sex ratio, which is the result of a gender-biased sex selection, is a clear reflection of how the society values women and girls.

The Prime Minister’s Independence Day speech addresses these concerns and brings to light the value of girls and women in our country. Much more needs to be done to #ENDviolence against girls and women and give them equal rights in society, including:

- Strong enforcement of Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act.
- Political will to take action.
- Awareness raising and promotion of mind-set change against son preference and the value of girls.

We need to make our country safe for all girls, for all children. #ENDviolence

Here is some of the data on Violence Against Girls and Women in India by National Crime Records Bureau - this is only a fraction of the real picture.

The recent comments made by the Prime Minister in his 68th Independence Day speech are a very encouraging message for the country, ones which we hope will be followed with strict action in this direction. Urgent action by the Government of India in partnership with civil society is needed to:

- Promote intensive awareness raising of society as a whole, communities, parents, teachers, and children themselves. A campaign showing political commitment and promoting zero tolerance and legal action to abuse should be promoted.
- Ensure stringent enforcement of legislation: JJ Act, POCSO Act, IPC and related Criminal Ordinance.
- Strengthen data collection systems, in particular to track the status of the case in the legal system.
- Enhance capacities of medical sector and teachers on how to detect and respond to violence.

We need to make our country safe for all girls, for all children. #ENDviolence

Bollywood Actress and International Recording Artist Priyanka Chopra inspires teenage girls to aim high with UNICEF

MUMBAI, India, 10 August 2014 - Bollywood Actress, International Recording Artist and UNICEF India Ambassador Priyanka Chopra met with young women in Chandrapur, India, to mark International Youth Day[1] and to witness how their lives are being transformed through the Building Young Futures programme, which is run in partnership with Barclays.

 

Priyanka Chopra has been supporting UNICEF’s adolescent work in India for eight years. During her visit she met young women from the Building Young Futures programme, locally known as Deepshikha, and saw how they are being empowered to help fulfil their potential.

 

Building Young Futures is a global partnership between Barclays and UNICEF that aims to unlock the potential of young people from disadvantaged communities. Through the programme in India young women are receiving peer to peer support in developing the life, enterprise and financial skills they need to overcome the challenges they face to become strong, financially independent women as well as agents of change in their communities. This includes learning how to save, building business plans, developing their own enterprises and learning how to network as well as building confidence, understanding girl’s rights and leadership skills.

 

In India there are around 243 million adolescents who are facing rising youth unemployment[2].  Life can be particularly hard for young women as they face the challenges of limited economic opportunities and access to training and employment, which reinforce broader issues of discrimination, early marriage, violence and poverty.

 

Priyanka Chopra said: “Girls have the ability to transform their own lives, develop their own enterprises and help grow India’s economy. The Building Young Futures programme being implemented by UNICEF in collaboration with Barclays is giving them the vital skills and support they need to make this happen.

 

“I met girls who have experienced incredible hardship in their lives.  Building Young Futures has given them a voice and confidence, or ‘daring’ as they call it.  These girls are working together, setting up businesses, planning their futures; they are empowered to handle the challenges life throws at them.  I strongly advocate that parents, care-givers and educators must give the girls more and more opportunities to grow in their lives.”

 

In India, by 2015, Building Young Futures will have empowered around 100,000 girls and young women directly and another 200,000 girls through the programme being scaled up by the Maharashtra Human Development Commissionerate.  The programme depends on UNICEF, Barclays and the Government of Maharashtra sharing their expertise.  It has helped these young women to build confidence, knowledge and skills, which gives them choices and the opportunity to build sustainable livelihoods.  The girls take their strength, and determination back into their communities, effecting significant change and helping to transform the wellbeing of even more women and children.

 

Ram Gopal, Chief Operating Officer, Barclays India, said: “Barclays is committed to supporting young people to develop the skills to fulfil their potential. Through Building Young Futures, we are able to empower these young women in India, teach them that they are equal to men, and help provide them with the skills they need to become economically empowered individuals. Building Young Futures is part of our global goal to support five million young people in becoming the next generation of achievers.”

 

Louis-George Arsenault, Representative for UNICEF India, explained: “Adolescence is an age of opportunity and UNICEF is committed to investing in young people and enabling them to transform society. The Deepshikha programme, which is currently being implemented in some districts of Maharashtra with the support of Barclays, has been extremely successful in providing girls and young women with the skills and confidence to start their own enterprises and we look forward to expanding this programme across the state and more widely in India.”

 

Priyanka met girls including Sadhana Chaudhari, who was discriminated against by her family and had to leave school early with limited skills. Sadhana, now 23 years old, runs her own tailoring business, and is setting up a group sanitary napkin business with other girls from her village.  She has become a leader in the programme, or Prerika as they are locally known, and is determined to pass what she has learnt onto other women in the community.

 

“Joining the Building Young Futures Deepshikha programme was a turning point in my life,” says Sadhana. “The Building Young Futures/ Deepshikha programme has given me confidence and now I can support my family.  I come to the training as I learn a lot from this.  I cannot do anything sitting at home, so I must come out and take charge of my own destiny.”

 

Notes to Editors

 

For further information, please contact:

 

UNICEF India

 

Swati Mohapatra, UNICEF Maharashtra, +91-993 023 5472, smohapatra@unicef.org

 

Geetanjali Master , UNICEF India, +91-981 810 5861, gmaster@unicef.org

 

Sonia Sarkar, UNICEF India, +91-981 017 0289, ssarkar@unicef.org

 

UNICEF UK

 

Kate Wills, UNICEF UK, + 44 (0)7880 292 429/  0044 (0)7966 935 639 kwills@unicef.org.uk

 

Georgina Thompson, UNICEF UK, +44 (0)207 375 6167  gthompson@unicef.org.uk

 

About Building Young Futures

 

Building Young Futures is a global partnership between Barclays and UNICEF, set up in 2008, that aims to unlock the potential of disadvantaged young people by providing them with the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to set up their own businesses and find work, as well as achieve a stronger economic future for themselves and their communities.  The programme runs in Brazil, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Uganda and Zambia.

 

In India Building Young Futures is locally known as Deepshikha.

 

To find out more visit http://www.buildingyoungfutures.org/   

 

The impact of Building Young Futures / Deepshikha in India to date:

 

·         Over 6,000 adolescent girls started income generating activities

 

·         Over 5,000 adolescent girls and facilitators joined vocational training courses

 

·         Over 1,300 adolescent girls and prerikas (young women leaders) have resumed their education 

 

·         1,350 Adolescent Girls Self-Help Groups formed; 1,198 of these have bank accounts

 

·         These groups have generated savings worth over Rs 4.2 million (US$69,440/ GB£41,200 approx)

 

·         Over 400 prerikas being elected to local self-government institutions

 

·         292 child marriages averted