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"Say Yes for Children" pledge campaign is racking up votes: UNICEF

"Say Yes for Children" pledge campaign is racking up votes: UNICEF

With 15 weeks to go before world leaders gather in New York for a special meeting devoted to children, a grassroots pledge campaign is racking up millions of votes from citizens demanding that world leaders do more for children and young people, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported today.

The pledge campaign, called "Say Yes for Children," urges world leaders to commit themselves to ten basic principles that seek to protect and improve the lives of children. The campaign is being sponsored by a global partnership of individuals and organizations committed to improving the world with children.

Speaking on behalf of the Say Yes partners, UNICEF announced today that at least 2.5 million pledges had been registered over the last six weeks, both through community outreach efforts and via the Web. People can reach "Say Yes for Children" at

"This campaign has the potential to make a real difference for children," said Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF. "The pledges of millions of people will be presented to world leaders at the UN Special Session on Children this September, and the message will be quite clear: the citizens of the world care about children and expect governments to keep the promises they make to them."

Governments, community leaders, artists, children's organizations and young people themselves are helping to promote the campaign and tally pledges in more than 90 countries. For example, in Niger, 300 traditional chiefs from Burkina Faso, Chad, Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal said "Yes for children" at a symposium of tribal chiefs. Often seen as conservative, they spoke out frankly for children's and women's rights, including a strong call for girls' education and against early marriage.

In Armenia, the Water World amusement park will distribute pledge forms to all those who enter its gates on special free days for children, while in Italy, 1 million pledges have been collected through a network of non-profit organizations, through a campaign promoted in television ads featuring the popular storybook character, Pinocchio.