FROM UNICEF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR HENRIETTA FORDE: Five opportunities for children we must seize now An open letter on why I believe we can reimagine a better post-COVID world for every child

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COVID-19 is the first truly global crisis we have seen in our lifetime. No matter where we live, the pandemic affects every person – children most of all. Millions are missing out on basic health services, education and protection simply because they were born into poverty or because of their ethnicity, religion or race. COVID-19 has widened this inequality gap and the social, economic and health impacts of the pandemic will reverberate for years to come, threatening child rights. 

But this is not the time to be intimidated or paralyzed by these challenges. As we kick off UNICEF’s 75th anniversary, we are reminded that this organization was created in the midst of another historic crisis in the aftermath of World War II. Back then, it would have been easy to be overwhelmed by the scale of the problems facing children in a war-ravaged world. But we reimagined what was possible. We built new health and welfare systems around the world. We defeated smallpox. We built the United Nations.

History is calling upon us once again. In previous major global crises, from world wars to pandemics, leaders have come together to negotiate deals and pacts, agreeing to build new ways to restore peace, recover and rebuild, and to cooperate.

We need to rally the world behind a practical and concrete plan to protect our children – a promise from our generation to the next to invest in health and education, build more resilient systems and services that can reach all children, and ensure that budget cuts and economic downturns do not harm them.

While we must be clear-eyed about the scale of the challenges facing the world’s children, we can also advance in partnership and solidarity by building on our past, with ambition and confidence in our future.

This is not about a return to the way things were. For hundreds of millions of children around the world, ‘normal’ was never good enough to begin with.

Here are five opportunities for the world’s children revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and five lessons on how we can reimagine a better future for them, as reflected in the voices of young people.


Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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