After almost 70 years of protecting and supporting child welfare, UNICEF has become a household name throughout the world. But where did the name itself come from in the first place?
Like other common acronyms such as SCUBA or LASER, UNICEF has become so ingrained in everyday language that few may realize the letters themselves hold meaning:
When the organization was first founded by the United Nations in December of 1946, the program was entitled United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). Because the program was created in the wake of World War II, its initial mission was to find speedy solutions for children left without resources and caretakers.
The post-war efforts were extremely successful: UNICEF spent $120,000,000 clothing, feeding and housing children, primarily in Europe. The results were striking and quickly lauded.
Actress Audrey Hepburn later spoke of her experiences with the organization during this time, attributing what she called her “long-lasting gratitude and trust for what UNICEF does” to the fact that she was among those who received food and medical relief right after World War II.
By the early 1950s, the immediate emergency needs of post-war children were mostly met. At that point, UNICEF was able to begin developing long-term plans and finding solutions for global childhood poverty, sickness and mistreatment.
At this point, in 1953, UNICEF was officially indoctrinated as a permanent program of the United Nations and shortened its name to the “United Nations Children’s Fund.” Despite the new title, the organization has kept the acronym of its previous name to this very day.
While its original purpose and title may have changed slightly since its founding, UNICEF remains committed to its overall mission of advocating for the wellbeing of all children. It is an example of an organization demonstrating adaptability in an ever-changing world.
As technology develops and advances, UNICEF takes full advantage of useful upgrades and discoveries. In 2007, the organization launched an “innovation branch,” meant to mobilize thinkers and guide funding towards technological advances helping children across the globe.
Using open source technology, all of the innovation branch’s projects harness the power of high technology for the betterment of the organization’s mission. This initiative is just one of many that reflects UNICEF’s ability to reimagine the way it approaches child welfare in a dynamic world.
While its name and focus may have changed over the years, the organization’s unyielding passion for helping the world’s children has not.
– Jen Diamond