It’s a universal truth that parents everywhere want to give their children a good start in life.
“Every child should have the opportunity to a good start in life so she/he can reach their full potential”, says Unilever CEO Paul Polman. “From basic good health and nutrition to access to education, through to being given equal opportunities to shine.”
In some places in the world, a good start is pretty straightforward… it simply means survival. According to a report published by UNICEF, nearly 16,000 children under five die needlessly from preventable diseases every day.
Here are just six of the ways we’re trying to help every child benefit from the best start they can get.
1. Domestos: Helping give children access to clean, safe toilets
A staggering 443 million school days are lost every year due to a lack of access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.
Domestos, through its work with partners such as UNICEF and PSI, as well as through its own programmes, has helped more than 6 million children and their families gain improved access to a toilet. It’s done this through developing sanitation behaviour change interventions, supporting new business models and implementing school-based sanitation programmes.
2. Home-grown school meals: Working toward zero hunger
Hunger and malnutrition are key barriers to child development. Healthy school meals are a good way to invest in the next generation’s future.
Since 2007, Unilever has partnered with the UN’s World Food Programme on its Home-Grown School Meals programme. This innovative approach links school meal programmes with local smallholder farmers to provide millions of schoolchildren with food that is safe, diverse, nutritious and above all local. School meals provide a powerful incentive for children to attend school regularly which means they perform better and are more likely to improve their job prospects as adults.
3. Lifebuoy: Reducing the spread of disease and child mortality
Did you know that a task as simple as encouraging people to wash their hands with soap and water could prevent 600,000 child deaths every year?
That’s why Lifebuoy is working with a variety of partners, including , PSI, Oxfam and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, in countries around the world, including eight of the 10 countries where infant mortality is highest. Lifebuoy School of 5, a school-based behaviour change programme, works with teachers to encourage school children to wash their hands at key moments of the day and has contributed to Lifebuoy reaching 379 million people so far. Additionally, , its online campaign, has inspired millions to support Lifebuoy’s work.
4. DiG laundry brands: Celebrating outdoor learning and play
Worldwide, 56% of children get one hour or less of outdoor play a day and nearly one in ten never play outside.
To encourage more play in childhood, Unilever’s leading laundry brands, Omo, Persil, Skip and Via – collectively known as Dirt is Good (DiG) – have worked with child behavioural experts, parents and teachers to support . In the two years it’s been running, more than a million children have enjoyed play and learning in the great outdoors.
5. Dove: Building positive body confidence and self-esteem
The is the biggest self-esteem education programme of its kind in the world. Created with leading experts in body confidence, the project is delivered through workshops involving parents, teachers and organisations such as the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. To date, it has reached more than 20 million young people in 139 countries and is aiming to reach 20 million more by 2020.
6. Signal: Encouraging better oral health
In countries where there is poor dental hygiene awareness, up to 90% of children suffer from oral health problems. To encourage whole families and communities to change their habits, Signal has been tapping into children’s ability to inspire those around them. In 2014, the brand launched a created by children, called Kids Can Change the World, to get their parents to brush their teeth.
And through Signal’s school programme, children are handed a 21-day calendar for them and their parents to follow up on their brushing habits at home. The campaign has given children the tools, confidence and enthusiasm to share the Brush Day & Night message with their family and friends, highlighting the effectiveness of children as agents of change in the home.
Creating a Brighter Future
By harnessing the power of our brands and maximising our partnerships with third-party stakeholders, we are committed to giving children the tools to stay both physically and emotionally healthy, as well as to succeed in life. This World Children’s Day, join us and commit to a world where all children have the chance of a brighter and happier future.