Posted on Apr 05, 2022
Empowering Girls is one of Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta’s presidential priorities.
Rotary Day with UNICEF, 25-26 March 2022, focuses on empowering girls, and how we create a safe and more resilient world for girls as we re-open societies beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Rotary’s People of Action: Champions of Girls Empowerment was a main feature at the event.
Rotary and UNICEF

Since Rotary and The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) began our partnership in 1988, as founding members of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), we have played a fundamental role in dramatically decreasing the number of polio endemic countries, from 125 countries back then to two countries today: Afghanistan and Pakistan.   Since GPEI’s founding, Rotary has provided over $2 billion and countless volunteer hours to immunize nearly 3 billion children in 122 countries. Additionally, Rotary’s advocacy efforts have played a role in decisions by donor governments to contribute more than $10 billion to this effort.   

UNICEF, as the largest single buyer and supplier of vaccines in the world, manages the procurement and distribution of over 1 billion doses of polio vaccines annually, accounting for more than 50 percent of global oral polio vaccines. Utilizing its expertise in supplying safe vaccines and engaging local communities, UNICEF also works to promote healthy behaviors, build trust in vaccines, and motivate parents to vaccinate their children against polio.  

The Rotary-UNICEF partnership has played a critical role in decreasing global incidence of polio by 99.9 percent.  Yet as wild poliovirus remains endemic there remains more work to be done before eradication is finally achieved. 

Rotary and UNICEF are incredibly large organizations - each with a presence in over 190 countries. While polio remains the primary focus and goal of our partnership until eradication, we recognize that Rotary members and UNICEF offices actively support other issues related to global development, humanitarian response, and peace. Local collaboration is already underway in several countries.
Empowering Girls

Equality is a fundamental human right that's vital for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world. Still, girls and women worldwide face inequities in areas including health and education, and they experience significant violence and disproportionate poverty. Rotary encourages clubs and districts to prioritize projects that improve the health, well-being, education, and economic security of girls in their communities and around the world.

As one of his key initiatives, President Shekhar Mehta is prioritizing projects that focus on improving the health, education, well-being, and economic security of girls across the globe. He is encouraging clubs and districts to empower girls through the  service initiatives they undertake during the 2021-22 Rotary year.

The safety and well-being of young people and youth program participants are Rotary's highest priority. Rotary provides comprehensive resources for clubs and districts that participate in youth programs so they can confidently implement our youth protection policies and act to prevent abuse and harassment.

The work of Rotary and UNICEF has contributed to significant improvements in girls’ education, health, and status within their communities. But since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, access to education and health care has become more difficult for girls and the incidence of early child marriage has increased dramatically. Adolescent girls are also facing a higher risk of violence and are more likely to drop out of school.

Empowering girls means ensuring that their basic needs are met while working to transform the structures and institutions that reinforce and perpetuate gender discrimination and inequality. It also includes helping girls develop self-confidence to advocate for themselves and others.

Through projects and programs that support distance learning, positive social change, and health and hygiene, Rotary and UNICEF are creating community-based solutions to empower girls and set them up for healthy, positive, and successful futures.

Designed with virtual participants in mind, Rotary Day With UNICEF 2022 took place over two days.
On 25 March, a global webinar featured Rotary’s People of Action: Champions of Girls’ Empowerment (video above)
On 26 March, regional breakout sessions will highlight local needs and opportunities for collaboration (video below)
The Rotary-UNICEF Local Collaboration Framework

There is already tremendous success in the Rotary-UNICEF partnership, with over 30 years of continued collaboration. And yet, there remain many opportunities for Rotary and UNICEF to work together at the local level. 

UNICEF has technical knowledge and can quickly mobilize and work efficiently with local, regional, or national governments. Rotary members have the capacity and connections to influence, organize, and mobilize locally. Developed with patience, respect and flexibility, local-level collaborations offer benefits from each organization and can prove a “win-win” for all.

The following are examples of current UNICEF-Rotary local collaboration:  

UNICEF Kenya and Rotary District 9212: Together the two organizations provide water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities for up to 400 schools across Kenya and on behavior change communication to help school reopening as Covid protocols allow. Building on this success, UNICEF and Rotary will work together on ending violence against children through the “Spot it, Stop it” campaign.

UNICEF Australia and Rotary Zone 8 (Australasia): Rotary and UNICEF will vaccinate over the next three years some 100,000 children across nine South Pacific Island countries from rotavirus, pneumococcal disease, and cervical cancer. Together with UNICEF, Rotary will work with local governments to develop and implement immunization programs that will deliver the vaccines. Strengthening the Pacific’s broader health systems will ensure the sustainable delivery of these vaccines into the future. Generations to come will benefit from this project.

UNICEF Nigeria and Rotary District 9125: Zaid Jurji, Chief of WASH for UNICEF Nigeria, gave a presentation at Rotary’s World Water Summit in Hamburg, Germany. Following the event, Zaid Jurji connected with Rotary leaders in West Africa. Together, UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) team worked with local Rotary leaders on social advocacy for Use the Toilet, a national campaign to end open defecation in Nigeria and get 47 million Nigerians to use the toilet while promoting safe hygiene and sanitation in the country.
For more information on Rotary Day with UN, visit: