EVERY ONE, Save the Children’s campaign to stop preventable child deaths, launched worldwide this month. Every 3 seconds a young child dies from problems we know how to solve. Almost half of these deaths are in Asia.
Asia has been celebrated for its impressive economic growth in recent years. But millions of Asian children are so excluded from this progress that if things don’t change they will not even live to see 2015. Advocacy and popular engagement are crucial aspects of how we can change this – how we can ensure that every child has the chance to survive and flourish.
So Save the Children staff and volunteers across Asia are determined to let citizens, corporations and governments hear the call: every child has the right to health care, clean water and enough to eat; every one of those goals is achievable; and real change will need every one of us to get involved.
Here are a few of the highlights from this month’s EVERY ONE campaign launches in Asia:
• In India – where 2 million kids die every year – Save the Children’s EVERY ONE campaign secured the backing of 100,000 people in the first week alone. Bollywood stars took time out to voice their support, and leading newspapers backed the campaign.
• In China, the campaign was launched by migrant children themselves, who had the chance to raise their calls for health for all directly at a meeting of top decision-makers in Shanghai. The All China Women’s Federation voiced their support for the children’s calls, as did top corporates and senior government officials.
• In Vietnam, high-level policy events brought the messages direct to senior leaders, whilst motorcycle parades of volunteers took the campaign out into the streets, with banners and posters put up across the country to let people know about the campaign. Meanwhile, Save the Children relief workers in Vietnam were providing essential assistance to 100,000 people affected by Typhoon Ketsana – directly saving lives in the here and now at the same time as working to influence policy and practice to save even more in the future.
• In Bangladesh, a leading magazine dedicated a special issue to the campaign. In Myanmar (Burma), the country’s top pop star gave her backing. In Sri Lanka, TV and radio programmes, newspaper adverts and text messages (sent out free of charge by phone company partners) together reached over 3 million people with news of the campaign. In Cambodia, a TV debate on child survival with Save the Children and the Government was watched by around a third of the population.
The EVERY ONE campaign will be central to all our work in Asia. The challenges of many different contexts and systems in Asia mean that campaigning is not easy. But, as Save the Children’s founder Eglantyne Jebb said, “nothing is impossible unless we refuse to attempt it”. And if we are to end preventable child deaths, campaigning is essential.
We have started well. The next phase will be even harder, and we will need your help. We need to make child survival the topic of discussion everywhere – around both the traditional village water pump and the high tech office water cooler. Talk with your friends, write to your leaders, let people know that this a priority for you. There’s a global discussion at http://everyone.org/en/#map – we’d love to hear your views.