As polls near, UNICEF calls on Afghans to make children, mothers a priority

26 August 2005

With up to 700 Afghan children under the age of five dying every day due to mostly preventable causes and 70 women losing their lives daily in pregnancy or childbirth, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has launched a new wide-ranging pre-election radio campaign to boost basic education and primary health care.

With up to 700 Afghan children under the age of five dying every day due to mostly preventable causes and 70 women losing their lives daily in pregnancy or childbirth, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has launched a new wide-ranging pre-election radio campaign to boost basic education and primary health care.

“This campaign aims to raise the debate about what Afghan children and mothers need today, and the priorities for action,” UNICEF country representative Bernt Aasen said of the initiative featuring a series of radio spots with local celebrities calling upon every Afghan to put children first in the interests of a stronger, more prosperous nation.

“I hope its message will be heard – and heeded – by all those with an interest in the successful future of Afghanistan. An investment in children today is an investment in the Afghanistan of tomorrow. It is an investment none of us can afford to overlook,” he added.

As the country’s parliamentary election campaign enters its final weeks, the campaign – “For every child – advance Afghanistan!” – draws attention to some of the challenges still facing children and their mothers, and identifies possible actions future leaders can take to improve the condition of women and children.

It aims to ensure that child rights are not overlooked by the electorate at the 18 September polls, and will serve to remind those ultimately elected of Afghanistan’s commitments under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, despite remarkable progress in areas such as education and health over the last four years

Beyond the infant and maternal mortality rates, more than 1.2 million primary school age girls are still not attending classes, 20 per cent of primary school age children have to work to support their families, while 40 per cent of Afghan women were married before the age of 18, exposing themselves to health risks and reducing their chances of an education.

The campaign highlights the need for more investment in basic education and primary health care, the protection of children from violence and abuse, special measures to support vulnerable children, and increased opportunities for children to better express their own views and ideas.

In the weeks before polling day, a number of round-table debates are planned between child rights activists, local community leaders and children, and will be broadcast on national radio in an effort to keep children at the forefront of voters’ minds.

 

♦ Receive daily updates directly in your inbox - Subscribe here to a topic.
♦ Download the UN News app for your iOS or Android devices.