OCTOBER 7, 1953
DES MOINES, Iowa, Tuesday—World Children's Day was marked this week—Monday—and I think that it is worthy of note that 35 countries this year celebrated the day. The idea was launched and approved in 1952 by the General Council of the International Union for Child Welfare. This union has member agencies in 38 countries. They were the ones to fix one day in the year on which they hoped more and more countries throughout the world would stress concern for the welfare of children. This concern would express itself in the promotion of the Children's Charter which is often known as the Declaration of Geneva, in which is spelled out the rights of children which should be recognized, and in actual existence everywhere in the world.
For this year's celebration the European Broadcasting Union made it possible for special broadcasts to be given in 35 countries. Many of these took the form of an adaption of a play written for the occasion by Mr. George Hoffman. The press of the different countries carried articles on the Children's Charter, stressing the importance of this one day in the year devoted to the future citizens of the world.
Portugal and Syria celebrated the day in their schools and universities as well. In Uruguay hundreds of poor children both in the capital and in other cities received some kind of a treat. In Norway the day marked the opening of a campaign to collect funds and clothing for the relief of Korean children. In Brazil they already have nationally established a Children's Week, and this special day which falls within it is a feature of that week. This also is the case in Yugoslavia where many different things are done to attract the attention of the parents and citizens to work for the welfare of the children of the nation.
In South Africa their national Children's Day falls a month later but they used World Children's Day as a prelude, giving information on their future plans. Little Finland has found so much interest in the World Children's Day and in child welfare in general that they have decided from January next on to feature child welfare in a weekly broadcast.
I think that the International Union for Child Welfare deserves credit from all of us who are interested in child welfare, for seeing that activities that educate the grown-ups are inaugurated so that the future may be better in every nation for the children. In many areas of the world life expectancy at birth is still very limited, 26 to 30 years in some countries, and that is because as a rule the death rate for babies in the first year of life is exceptionally high. The years up to seven are often precarious beyond the ordinary. Therefore everything that can be done to increase the awareness of people throughout the world for welfare of children should be done.
UNICEF has awakened the interest of many people in many countries and if the United Nations decides in the coming year to make this one of its permanent activities, with administrative expenses borne by every nation, I think that it will be easy to continue to spread the concern for the world's children throughout all the world organizations that are working toward that end.