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Nov 21, 2022 / 14:16

Shared commitment needed to ensure all children empowered: UNICEF

Collective commitment is essential to ensure all children in Vietnam are healthy, safe, educated, empowered, and reach their full potential.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has highlighted the collective commitment to implementing children’s agenda to ensure the nationally targeted programs are fully met for a better situation of children in Vietnam.

Rana Flowers, UNICEF Representative in Vietnam, speaks at a ceremony celebrating World Children's Day on Nov 20. Photos: UNICEF 

Rana Flowers, UNICEF Representative in Vietnam, delivered the message on World Children’s Day (WCD), celebrated on November 20 in Danang, Vietnam, to mark the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1989.

According to her, commitment is needed to ensure increased and more timely government investments in child and gender-sensitive social protection and essential social sectors and to hold all involved accountable for change to achieve the SDGs for this segment of the community.

This year, WCD coincides with the Men’s Football World Cup 2022 kick-off, a unique opportunity that UNICEF Vietnam is taking to promote the power of sport to drive inclusion, build skills, competencies, and confidence, and support the mental well-being of children and adolescents in Vietnam.

UNICEF Vietnam conveys a message of the strength of joined efforts in sports and children’s protection causes.

“Just as teamwork is key to success in football, a shared commitment is critical to ensure all children in Vietnam are healthy, safe, educated, and empowered,” Rana Flowers emphasized.

And, just as fair play is essential in sports, she added that children need a fair opportunity to reach their full potential in life.

 Children's response to sports games. 

Children in Vietnam

Vietnam, the first country in the East Asia and Pacific region to ratify the CRC in 1990, has made tremendous progress for its 27 million children, making incremental strides to ensure that they all are healthy, educated, protected in safe and clean environments, and empowered to reach their full potential.

“With notable results across various areas and active engagement in key priorities such as the digital transformation for the education system, Vietnam shows an impressive capacity to bring positive change for every child,” Flowers noted.

Despite outstanding gains, there remains an unfinished agenda for children. Worsened by the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, challenged by rolling disasters and the climate crisis, too many children face disparities, suffer multidimensional poverty, and are left behind.

According to UNICEF Vietnam, a specific refocus and reprioritization of resources is needed in favor of the children most at risk, those from ethnic minority groups, those whose parents migrate for work, those with disabilities, and all those who are facing deprivations.

Things remain to be done to bridge the gap and get childhood back on track. In reality, 14.5% of children are at risk of deprivation in at least two dimensions of their well-being. Children living in rural areas are twice as likely to be at risk as those in cities.

In addition, nearly 20% of children under five are stunted, and severe acute malnutrition affects more than 200,000 children yearly, with only 10% receiving appropriate treatment. Meanwhile, 72% of children 1-14 experience violent discipline at home, and the preschool enrollment rate amongst children aged 3-5 from ethnic groups is only 66% compared to 92% nationwide.

 Children join sports games that highlight united efforts. 

Vietnam’s response to World Children’s Day

Across the country, the World Children’s Day (WCD) activities started earlier this month with the Football without Limits initiative, a collaboration between UNICEF, the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), and the National School Sports Association.

It aims to provide football to children in around 30,000 schools and beyond and resources on the essential role sport plays in fostering healthy well-being and development of children, especially girls. The national initiative will continue over the coming year, embracing the Women’s Football World Cup in 2023.

National and international football stars have joined with UNICEF through an awareness campaign to inspire the public to unite as one team to get childhood back on track. As people unite to support their favorite football players and teams, UNICEF also encourages everybody to rally and create change and progress for every child.

Danang teams up with UNICEF and hundreds of children at an event on World Children’s Day to showcase the power of sport for children's development. Officials from different stakeholders and five hundred children from Danang come together to enjoy a football match of girl and boy players, a music performance, and other activities promoting the spirit of One Team for Every Child.

In this spirit, UNICEF encourages girls into sports and supports the MOET to make this a reality. Rana Flowers said that UNICEF wants schools and parents to understand that sport brings much more than eye-ball coordination and fitness. The power of sport – beyond fun and physical benefits – is vital in promoting mental well-being, bringing joy, supporting good nutrition, and enabling children and adolescents to practice the essential skills they need for success, said Rana Flowers.

In response to the common drive to benefit children, Hanoi has carried out different programs to ensure that local children are well-protected and empowered.

By operating a committee in charge of protecting children citywide, Hanoi has been keeping an eye on this mission with the aim of giving local kids good care and protection, especially those of ethnic minorities and in rural areas.

As of the end of end-2021, Hanoi had nearly two million children, including more than 14,000 vulnerable groups. To support them, the local authorities have offered health insurance and social welfare on the occasions of the Lunar New Year (Tet holiday), Mid-autumn Festival (Tet Trung Thu), International Children’s Day, and Action Month for Children, among others.

In another move, the city has trained manpower which is in charge of children’s protection and care to ensure that the kids are well protected physically and spiritually. In addition, the local government has invested in study and recreation facilities to have well-equipped venues for the development of children.