Brazil, the fifth most populated country in the world with a staggering number of more than 195 million people of which approximately 30% fall under the category of under 18 years. Since 1950, UNICEF has helped in achieving important child rights in Brazil. For example, it has promoted school feeding programmes, helped in reducing child mortality, provided strategies in eliminating polio, it has even extended the compulsory education age range from 6-14 years to 4-17 years.
Priorities of UNICEF include helping Brazil advance towards the universalization of rights to every girl and boy. These rights include the right to survive and develop which guarantees that the millions of Brazilian children up to 6 years of age are ensured the right to survive, have a birth certificate, given care, and protection and to fully develop. UNICEF also carries out the right to learn, Brazil has a high rate of children who have access to school as education is free of charge to people in the public sector. Another important child right that UNICEF puts all of its resources to is the right to protect oneself against HIV/AIDS disease. The Brazilian National AIDS Program is widely recognized as a leading example of HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment program in a developing country. The impact of the Brazilian response is stupendous as rates of HIV are much lower than it was a decade ago, and child mortality rates have fallen by about 50% all which have been accomplished with UNICEF by their side. Last but not the least, children also have the right to grow up without violence and not live in fear of abuse and sexual exploitation. Most cases are not reported or investigated which is why UNICEF has supported improved reporting systems and stimulated specialized care.
Currently, UNICEF is focused on reducing discrimination based on gender, race and personal condition in three large parts: the semi-arid region (like Alagoas or Bahia), the Brazilian Amazon and the poorest areas among large urban centres (such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo). Through the Municipal Seal of Approval, UNICEF works with more than 1700 municipalities that are situated in these places to guarantee the rights of every boy and girl that share the impact of discrimination there. With this Urban Centers Platform strategy, UNICEF helps in reducing the traces of discrimination that are still existent.
UNICEF has also trained a number of professionals including health and social workers, teachers, judges and law enforcement officials on detecting and responding to child abuse situations. It has also set up monitoring systems that identify children who are victims of this issue. A major drawback is the sometimes unreliable data at national and municipal levels for child protection causing UNICEF to work closely with the government to develop data collection systems. UNICEF has also engaged in house to house surveys on labour done by children. This revealed that in the Ceara state 127,455 children and 180,643 children in total were engaged in agricultural labour and domestic work respectively. This survey leads to the State Plan for the Eradication of Child Labour.
UNICEF’s support has led the way for governmental programmes that provide care for children and adolescent victims of violence, abuse and exploitation. UNICEF in Brazil has thrived in reducing child labour between 1995 and 2001 of children aged 5-14 by 1.5 million. UNICEF also succeeded in bringing important child protection issues onto the national agenda that protect them from sexual abuse and exploitation.