Every year, UNICEF supporters meet with members of Congress to advocate for the world’s children through the legislative process. Last year, as a response to the ongoing pandemic, UNICEF USA shifted to virtual advocacy for the first time ever. Our virtual advocacy efforts exceeded all expectations — more than 600 UNICEF supporters from 46 states gathered virtually to meet with their Congressional offices and participate in digital advocacy activations.

This year, UNICEF USA advocates will return to virtual advocacy on March 24, 2022. Volunteer advocates will participate in meetings with Congressional offices to raise support for UNICEF’s lifesaving work and encourage members of Congress to support legislation that benefits the world’s most vulnerable children. 

Since 1946, the U.S. Government, the American people and UNICEF have united to save children’s lives. Longstanding bipartisan Congressional support for UNICEF and child survival has been critical in expanding UNICEF’s reach to every corner of the world, reducing child mortality by more than half since 1990. 

Children today need UNICEF more than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted essential health services: 23 million children missed out on basic childhood vaccines through routine health services in 2020, the highest number since 2009. Rising poverty, inequality, climate change, conflict and the pandemic have worsened the malnutrition crisis across the globe. In order to reach these vulnerable children, UNICEF needs the support of grassroots advocates and Congress. For the first time, Advocacy Day participants will encourage Congress to increase the U.S. Government’s contribution to UNICEF to $175 million to accommodate the increased needs of children worldwide. 

In Bangladesh, girls are back in school after a year-long disruption in their education. The school’s re-opening in September 2021 was supported by the Bangladesh government and UNICEF. © UNICEF/UN0527656/Sujan

Advocates will also raise awareness for the pandemic’s impact on girls’ education. Before the pandemic, 132 million girls between the ages of 6 and 17 were out of school. Pandemic-related school closures have exacerbated this problem; UNESCO estimates that more than 11 million girls may not return to school.  

Advocates will encourage the 117th Congress to pass the bipartisan Keeping Girls in School Act (H.R.4134 / S.2276). This bill intends to harness the power of the U.S. Government to address barriers disrupting girls’ education through smart investments and coordination between government agencies. Last year, advocates laid the groundwork for the bill’s introduction in June 2021. Now, we need to secure more support for the bill before the 117th Congress adjourns at the end of 2022. 

Grassroots activists play an essential role in advocating to Congress on behalf of children. Registration to participate in Advocacy Day 2022 is now open. Advocates will be required to participate in a mandatory virtual training session on March 22, 2022 at 8 PM ET. Congressional meetings will be held on March 24, 2022.  

UNICEF supporter Maureen Silverleib met with Senator Warren’s (D-MA) office during UNICEF USA’s virtual Advocacy Week in March 2021.

This March, we need to leave the status quo behind and make change by joining UNICEF Advocacy … You can make a major difference in children’s lives in one day, even in one meeting. —UNICEF USA Supporter Maureen Silverleib