The 2015 UNICEF Annual Meeting was both a celebration and movement to put #ChildrenFirst. Held at the Times Center in NYC on Friday, May 8th, the day-long meeting was filled with inspiring discussions and video clips illustrating the impact UNICEF made in the past year. The auditorium was filled with people from all sort of backgrounds and UNICEF Affiliations including young ambassadors, college students, fellows, board members and supporters. At 9:00 AM, Caryl M. Stern, President and CEO, took the stage and excitedly commenced the event. She reminded us of the UNICEF mission to “advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential.”

“The investment in children is paramount to global stability. 14 million children. Each one has a name. Each one has a story. When children’s lives are at stake we do not have the luxury to do one or the other. We do both.” – @CarylStern

Caryl Stern speaking at UNICEF Annual Meeting
Caryl Stern speaking at UNICEF Annual Meeting

Voices from the Field panel was moderated by Dr. Richard Besser (@DrRichardBesser), Chief Health and Medical Editor of ABC News, and included:

Barabara Bentein (@bbentein), UNICEF Deputy Global Emergency Coordinator

Robert G. Jenkins (@RobertG_Jenkins),@UNICEFJordan Representative

Christine Munduate, @unicefhonduras Representative

Afshan Khan, Director, Office of Emergency Programmes (EMOPS), UNICEF


From Left to Right: Moderator Dr. Richard Besser and Panelists Afshan Khan, Barabara Bentein, Robert G. Jenkins, and Christine Munduate.
From Left to Right: Moderator Dr. Richard Besser and Panelists Afshan Khan, Barabara Bentein, Robert G. Jenkins, and Christine Munduate.

The Panel reflected on UNICEF’s past year and quick response to over 294 emergencies in 98 countries. UNICEF sites must constantly fight against corruption, violence, organized crime, dysfunctional governments and significant structural inequities that highly impact the work they do. These barriers to health and socio-economic empowerment are far too common for many organizations or individuals dedicated to global development or, more specifically, improving child health. Despite these barriers to progress, UNICEF has successfully managed to impact millions of families and children through measles vaccinations, feeding the malnourished, providing clean water, and increasing access to formal and informal education. And we must continue to do more, for “we live in an increasingly globalized world. What affects one part of the world will affect another,” as stated by Afshan Khan, UNICEF Director, Office of Emergency Programmes (EMOPS).

The final and highly energized panel at the meeting was all about UNICEF Kid Power. This is an effort to get students in America to stay active through a dual purpose innovative tech solution that simultaneously tackles malnutrition in the developing world. The program focuses on educating children in elementary and secondary schools about malnutrition and encourages healthy competition between schools and groups to get active. Each participant wears a Kid Power Band to track his or her steps and collect points that can be converted into “life-saving nutrition packets for malnourished children in developing countries.”

UNICEF Kid Power Bands
UNICEF Kid Power Bands

The annual meeting served as a reminder of the power of #storytelling. Every panelist, every speaker, every audience member had a story to tell. The stories brought to life children and families, they were made relatable in an effort to connect with those who may have never experienced the harsh realities of an impoverished livelihood. “Children give me hope. Even in the most difficult situations…they give me strength.” Cristian Munduate, @unicefhonduras 

Like the work of UNICEF, the Children’s Prize also focuses on supporting projects and leadership that improves child health ensuring that more children survive and thrive. Through our community-based work we agree, #ChildrenFirst. If you have a moment, we encourage that you learn more about grassroots leaders whose work ranges from prevention of prenatal complications, to perinatal care packages, access to clean drinking water and Kangaroo Mother Care:

NepalDr. Joanne Katz, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health 

Kenya, Dr. Abdhalah Ziraba, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC).

Angola, Lynn Cole,  RISE International

Uganda, Jaqueline Cutts, Safe Mothers Safe Babies (SAFE)

PakistanDr. Anita Zaidi 


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