Statement by UNICEF Representative at UNICEF at 70 Event

Address of Maniza Zaman, UNICEF Representative to the United Republic of Tanzania
 
At UNICEF@70 celebration event
14th December 2016
Dar es Salaam
 
Your Excellency former president, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, 
Honourable, former Prime Minister, Mr. Mizengo  Pinda, 
Honourable Minister Ummy Ally Mwalimu, 
My colleague Resident Coordinator, Alvaro Rodriguez,  
Distinguished colleagues from mainland Tanzania Government and Zanzibar
Regional Commissioners,
Colleagues and Representatives from Development Organisations and civil society, 
UN colleagues 
The seven change makers
Our young champions – young Tanzanians here
Representatives of the Media. 
UNICEF team including ex-UNICEF colleagues
Ladies and Gentlemen
All protocols observed
Habari za asubuhi , good morning
 
This is a very special gathering today. It is special by the nature of its focus – celebrating 70 years of UNICEF.  It is special by nature of its ultimate goal – building a world where all children realise their rights and where is no one is left behind. It is also special by your presence in large numbers here recognizing the importance of children - signifying hope for every child in Tanzania.  
 
I must recognize the very special honour of having you, Your Excellency former President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, here with us. You signed the Convention of the Rights of the Child for Tanzania in 1990 – without your presence this event would feel incomplete – so thank you most sincerely for being with us.
 
For 70 years, UNICEF has been the leading advocate for child rights. With our partners we have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of children all over the world. Our aspiration is clear - that every child has a fair chance to reach his or her full potential. 
As an organization we came into being on 11 Dec 1946 with a mandate to serve children who were suffering in the aftermath of World War II. Today we work in 190 countries / territories; have about 13,000 staff, 90% of which work in the field.
 
When you reach this kind of milestone its natural to look back. Let us remind ourselves of some remarkable achievements the world has seen for children. In the last 25 years the number of children dying before their first birthday has halved. Hundreds of millions of children have been lifted out of poverty. 122 out of 125 Polio endemic countries are now polio free. Millions more children are going to school. With partners we have reached millions of children in the most desperate situations – just as we are doing today in Aleppo, Yemen, northern Nigeria. UNICEF will stay and deliver for children. 
Closer to home, we are also pleased to recognize the significant achievements Tanzania has made for its children. Let me highlight a few: 
 
-The number of children who die before they are 5 has dropped by 50 percent between 2005 and 2015
 
-New HIV infections in Tanzanian children have fallen dramatically by 72 per cent between 2009 and 2014
 
-Malnutrition has decreased in the last 15 years
 
-Primary school enrolment is at 86%
 
-And just yesterday – showing strong resolve and commitment - Tanzania launched its Plan to end violence against children and women.
 
Hongera sana!
 
UNICEF is proud of its long-standing partnership with the Government of Tanzania and to contribute, as part of the UN family, to Tanzania’s results for children. We have been on the ground here since 1954, responding to emergencies, before setting up a permanent office in 1975.  Here we are in now 2016, continuing the journey for the children of Tanzania with our new country programme that started in July. 
We have work ahead – here are some issues children in Tanzania are facing: 
 
85 per cent of children under 5 – especially the poorer ones - do not have a birth certificate
 
390 children under five die every day mainly from preventable causes
 
One in 3 children are not adequately nourished
 
Only 30% of children (0-14 years) who need it, get treatment for HIV 
 
Only 60 per cent of children with primary education transition to secondary school
 
84 per cent of schools do not have working water taps for hand washing
 
40% of girls are either mothers or pregnant before 19 years of age
 
As you can see, we still have work to do. Behind each number is a child - in fact many children. 
 
No one entity can tackle all these issues by themselves. Partnerships are key and UNICEF is grateful all over the world for the partners we have - Governments, parliamentarians, civil society, academia, private sector, donors, ordinary citizens - that come together to achieve results for children. And one of the great things about partnerships is the diversity they bring and the innovations that emerge to solving problems that affect children.
Every culture has heroes that tell stories that inspire generations. Hence, to commemorate its 70th anniversary, UNICEF in Tanzania, is starting an initiative to celebrate change-makers of all ages, including children. These are individuals who are actively promoting child rights and are catalysts for positive change in their communities
As you walked in you saw our exhibition. Seven remarkable individuals : 
 
a religious leader
 
community volunteer
 
clinical officer
 
deputy head teacher
 
HIV peer educator
 
Former professor
 
Female head of household
 
-All who cared enough, acted and who are making a difference….
 
We will have an opportunity to appreciate these amazing individuals later today. For now on behalf of the children you have touched, we say to you - asanteni sana!
As I come to the end of this address, let me note that 50 percent of Tanzania’s population are children. What is more striking is that the number of children is projected to double to over 50 million by 2050. This young population could be a tremendous asset if – and only if – we all invest in them and do so early. 
 
The Sustainable Development Goals, which Tanzania has signed up to, envisages a better world for future generations. Children and young people have to be part of creating that better world – it is going to be their world. And to take part, children must grow up healthy, benefit from a good education, be safe and have a voice that is heard. We have to invest in children – otherwise where will the large numbers of energized and vibrant citizens of the future Tanzania come from? 
 
UNICEF would like to underscore the need for urgency and accelerated progress for children – especially the most disadvantaged. We also recognize the influence and power of children and youth to drive change. Hence, today we are going beyond words. The youth of Tanzania are taking over the UNICEF@70 event and also our social media channels for the day. We are confident that the passion and excitement in their voices and story-telling will accelerate the change we want to see. 
 
During today’s event, we will also launch a Youth for Children Innovation Lab in partnership with the University of Dar es Salaam, College of Engineering and Information Technology (CoET). This will provide an additional platform for young people to innovate for children. 
 
Let me end by urging the young people present here, and others, whom we hope to reach through all of you, that now is the time to act and speak up for children’s rights. It is my belief that your voices will echo far beyond this hall and will swell to become a social movement for children. 
Childhood is precious – it is our hope as UNICEF that each and every individual here will be “be a change-maker for children”.
 
Thank you so much for your attention. 
 
 
His Name is Today
 
“We are guilty of many errors and many faults,
But our worst crime is abandoning the children,
Neglecting the fountain of life.
Many of the things we need can wait,
The child cannot wait.
Right now is the time his bones are being formed,
His blood is being made,
And his senses are being developed.
To him we cannot answer ‘tomorrow’
His name is Today.
 
Gabriela Mistral
Nobel Prize Winning Poet from Chile