December 14th, 2016 Kigali, Rwanda - During a special event at Kigali Century Cinema this week, UNICEF Rwanda celebrated the organisation’s 70th anniversary of tireless work for children, as well as 30 years of successful collaboration with the Government of Rwanda and its partners.
This week’s event began with a reception at the theatre, uniting UNICEF’s partners from the Government and civil society, donors, the diplomatic community, and UNICEF staff in order to celebrate together the achievements made for children in Rwanda.
Founded in 1946, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, was established by the UN General Assembly to address the needs of children in the aftermath of World War II. In 1990, Rwanda became one of the first countries in the world to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which provided an important foundation for the Government’s partnership with UNICEF.
Following the reception, Mr. Ted Maly, Representative of UNICEF Rwanda, welcomed attendees to the special commemorative event. Mr. Maly reminded everyone that UNICEF’s work is no less urgent than it was 70 years ago. UNICEF now continues as a leading advocate for the rights and well-being of all children, and is proud to have made valuable contributions to Rwanda’s remarkable development progress.
For the main event, UNICEF offered a special screening of the inspiring documentary on Early Childhood Development, “The Beginning of Life.” Featuring expert interviews and following the lives of real children and their families, the documentary showed how a child’s environment is just as important as genetics in shaping his or her development. With stirring images of children from around the world and authentic candid interactions between families, the film powerfully conveyed that all people must take responsibility the future of the world’s children. UNICEF encouraged guests to join hands and become changemakers for Early Childhood Development.
Early Childhood Development is a top priority in Rwanda, and UNICEF is proud to be part of the Government’s efforts. Such strong partnership has led to important results for children, such as the construction of the first Early Childhood Development centre, which has since been replicated in more than ten districts. To complement these centres, UNICEF supported the Government to develop a play-based pre-primary national curriculum, which has since been introduced in all schools as of January. It is because of the Government’s leadership in Early Childhood Development that “The Beginning of Life” was selected as an exemplary tribute to achievements made in this area.
However, Mr. Maly reminded attendees that Early Childhood Development is just one part of UNICEF’s work. “It is upon this foundation that we expand into other areas, working to ensure children go to school, that they are vaccinated, that they have access to clean water and good hygiene. It is a holistic approach across the continuum of a child’s life, and in the context of a strong and loving family environment.”
UNICEF was joined at the event by Nadine Umutoni, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF). As MIGEPROF is one of UNICEF’s primary partners, Ms. Umutoni’s remarks carried important weight. “There is much to celebrate during this commemoration,” she said, “from declining infant mortality to rising school enrolment. The Government of Rwanda is committed to keeping the partnership with UNICEF to ensure a better life for every child.”
Mr. Maly also recognised all of UNICEF’s partners from the Government, civil society organisations, various donors, and the diplomatic community, all of whom help make UNICEF’s work in Rwanda a reality.
UNICEF Rwanda also commemorated the global 70th anniversary with a five-day children’s photography workshop under the theme “hopes and aspirations”. The workshop was designed to link the participants’ understanding of child rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child to visual expressions through photography. The workshop culminated in the UNICEF Rwanda 2017 calendar, featuring photographs taken by the children.
The calendar can be found here: https://www.unicef.org/rwanda/events_19153.html
Mr. Maly concluded that UNICEF Rwanda looks forward to many more years of successful results for children. “Let us use this opportunity to reaffirm that children will remain at the heart of the development agenda, so that every child gets the best possible start in life.”