Ishmael Beah, David Beckham, Orlando Bloom, Millie Bobby Brown, Jackie Chan, Priyanka Chopra, Angelique Kidjo and Femi Kuti attend UNICEF's 70th anniversary event and call for a fair chance for every child.
UNICEF commemorated 70 years of tireless work for children today with the help of some of the organization’s best-known Goodwill Ambassadors and celebrity advocates at a ’children’s takeover’ event co-hosted by 12-year-old Millie Bobby Brown and featuring children and young people who have benefited directly from UNICEF’s efforts.
The celebration at United Nations headquarters in New York featured UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors Ishmael Beah, David Beckham, Orlando Bloom, Jackie Chan, Angelique Kidjo, Femi Kuti, and world-renowned actress and girls’ rights advocate Priyanka Chopra, whose appointment as UNICEF’s newest global Goodwill Ambassador was announced at the event.
“My involvement with UNICEF began almost 10 years ago in India. Today, I stand here humbled, enriched and committed, because of it. Thank you, UNICEF, for the amazing journey so far as well as this huge honor,” said UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra. “Along this decade old journey, with UNICEF, I have been on many field trips to villages and centers across India. On those trips, I spent time with numerous young girls and their families and experienced firsthand the transformative power of empowering young girls with opportunities that are rightfully theirs. Together, with my fellow, dedicated ambassadors, I am now proud to stand with UNICEF to help build a world where children’s rights are respected and protected.”
Ms. Chopra has served as a UNICEF national ambassador in India, where she has been an intrepid advocate for girls and adolescents. Celebrating her appointment, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said, “Priyanka Chopra is already a champion for India’s children — and as a UNICEF global Goodwill Ambassador, she will be a force for children and adolescents everywhere.”
The anniversary celebration, which was led by the next generation of young celebrities and other young people, powerfully demonstrated the impact of UNICEF’s work over seven decades to protect the rights of the world’s most vulnerable children.
“This celebration of UNICEF’s 70th anniversary belongs to those for whom UNICEF was created in the first place: children. And it also belongs to the thousands of UNICEF staff and our partners whose work in some of the world’s most dangerous and difficult places has touched the lives of millions of children. What can be more important?” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.
People’s Choice nominee and star of hit television series Stranger Things Millie Bobby Brown served as the evening’s co-host and interviewed international soccer star David Beckham about what he has seen and learned over the course of his 11-years as a Goodwill Ambassador. Rising young Broadway star Akira Golz and UNICEF Youth Advocate Chen Lin were also co-hosts at the event. Together they represented the future of UNICEF and its work for every child.
Orquestra Crianca Cidada, a 37-member Brazilian children’s orchestra, kicked off the evening’s performances. UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors and international music stars Angelique Kidjo and Femi Kuti performed together onstage with Kids United, a French musical group of children aged between 8 and 16 years.
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom conducted an onstage discussion with child refugee Mustafa Al Said, who fled conflict in his native Syria and now lives in Germany. UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Ishmael Beah spoke about his experience as a child soldier in Sierra Leone and his work advocating against the recruitment of children into armed groups.
The programme also featured Juan Carlos, a 27-year-old lawyer from El Salvador, who recalled how UNICEF helped him after he lost his limbs when he stepped on a buried landmine at the age of five years old. He now advocates for the rights of children with disabilities, working to help break down the barriers and inequities they often face.
Livey Van Wyk, a mother living with HIV, spoke about her experience fighting stigma, She was accompanied on stage by her 13-year-old son, who is HIV-negative thanks to UNICEF’s work in Namibia to prevent HIV transmission from mothers to their babies.
Today, the Empire State Building in New York marked UNICEF’s 70th anniversary by lighting the tower UNICEF-blue. The lights were switched on by UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham.
“UNICEF was established to bring help and hope to children whose lives and futures were at risk. Our mission is no less urgent today,” said Mr. Lake. “As UNICEF gives children hope, children are the world’s hope for a better future — for all of us.”