First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has applauded the role played by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the global promotion and entrenchment of children’s rights.
Reflecting on the UN agency’s long history, the First Lady said UNICEF has over the decades impacted the lives of millions of children across the world.
“Looking back at the journey this institution has traveled since 1946, impacting the lives of millions of children, saving lives, and protecting their rights is a visible legacy that makes us all proud to be part of,” the First Lady said.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta spoke in Nairobi on Friday in a recorded video message delivered during celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of UNICEF and 50 years of its presence in Kenya.
She noted that UNICEF’s contribution to the progress of humanity has helped in the achievement of great milestones for children including the eradication of polio, humanitarian relief, and universal primary education.
“The legacy of your work dwells in generations of children whose lives have been enhanced, particularly children living in vulnerable and marginalized communities,” the First Lady said.
She pointed out that UNICEF’s contribution to protecting girls from harmful cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriages resonates with Kenya’s commitment to ending all forms of gender-based violence by 2026.
The legacy of your work dwells in generations of children whose lives have been enhanced, particularly children living in vulnerable and marginalised communities
The First Lady, who is also a champion of efforts to end child malnutrition, commended the UN agency for helping advance the global agenda of children’s rights to nutrition.
“Nutrition remains a priority for me because of the impact it has on our children’s growth and development, to reach their full potential. This way, they can excel in education and become productive citizens in society,” the First Lady said.
On HIV prevention, the First Lady said UNICEF had contributed significantly towards the achievement of Kenya’s goal to end the mother-to-child transmission of HIV and Syphilis by 2023, and thanked the organization for the support it gave at the development of the country’s eMTCT strategy.
“We look forward to a stronger partnership in raising the profile of maternal, newborn, and child health in Kenya. We have a collective commitment to deliver on our global promise to leave no one behind,” the First Lady said.
Chief Justice Martha Koome, who also spoke at the celebration, said the judiciary had prioritized the protection of child rights in the country and regretted that despite having a strong legal regime, Kenyan children remain vulnerable due to an implementation gap.
Justice Koome rallied state and non-state actors to give the agenda more prominence vowing to continue with her life-long commitment to the advancement of children’s rights.
UNICEF Kenya Country Representative Maniza Zaman said her agency had contributed so significantly to the wellbeing of the country’s children and listed the reduction of under-5 mortality rate by 57% between 1990 and 2020, rise in enrolment under the Free Primary School Education Programme to 10 million pupils and increasing social protection coverage from 500 families in 2005 to 1.3 million this year as some of the major milestones achieved over the years.
She said UNICEF had provided 9.3 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines and congratulated First Lady Margaret Kenyatta for her tireless advocacy work for vulnerable children.
During the celebrations, two Kenyan children Angela Andia, 12, and Daniel Mose, 11, were awarded for outstanding performance in Nation Media Group and UNICEF-sponsored Wisdom Project.