The UNICEF mandate to articulate and communicate the rights
of every child... is urgent and necessary. Millions of children in communities
all over the world can grow into a healthier better educated individuals
if these rights are respected and protected.
Animation has now become a vital tool at UNICEF. Unlike
any other medium, animation has universal appeal. It is quick and to the
point. It can cross gender, age and cultural barriers. As well as communicating
health messages, animated characters can provide role models that alter
children's lives for the better by changing perceptions or teaching tolerance.
The active involvement of UNICEF in the world of animation
came in 1990, when it hosted an Animation for Development Workshop in
Prague. Representatives from UNICEF country offices met with animators
from around the world to exchange ideas and experience, and consider the
role that animation could play in conveying life-saving messages. The
workshop was successful not only in convincing both UNICEF staff and industry
leaders that animated film for development was a good idea, but it also
started the ball rolling on several UNICEF animation initiatives.
In November 1994, UNICEF, with the help of Walt Disney
Feature Animation, hosted its Second Animation for Development Workshop
and Summit in Orlando, Florida. Over 62 countries were represented at the
workshop, bringing more than 200 industry leaders, animators and UNICEF
staff together to develop creative approaches to solving the everyday problems
In a very short period of time, animation projects at UNICEF
have exploded. World-class animators and leading production companies are
working with UNICEF on a broad range of initiatives, while animators from
developing countries are being trained by their counterparts in the industrialized
world. Animation is being used to inform, to educate and to change behavior.
Long-lasting alliances are being built and co-production partnerships being
formed that will tackle the problems of children into the next century.
- Through the International Animation Consortium for Child
Rights, a global group made up of top animation studios, animators and
distributors are producing 30-second features created by animators from
industrialized and developing countries to raise awareness of children's
rights. Studios that join the Consortium are donating staff and services
for production. The goal of the International Animation Consortium is
to coordinate all aspects of production to ensure close collaboration
leading to a unique and effective campaign. The vision of the individual
producers is extremely important to the project. By using animation
talent throughout the world, diversity of style and content is being
- The UNICEF animated character Meena, her family and
her pet bird Mithu have won the hearts of children and adults all over
South Asia. Throughout a 12-part series, Meena manages to find practical
solutions to problems of gender discrimination such as receiving less
education and less food than boys. Meena is produced by UNICEF in South
Asia in collaboration with animator Ram Mohan of Bombay and Hanna-Barbera
subsidiary Fil-Cartoons, in Manila.
- Maximo, the talking toucan, is the master of ceremonies
who introduces each episode in a series of 10 short animated films for
the Andean region on topics such as immunization, oral rehydration therapy
and vitamin A deficiency. The recently completed series, was developed
in Ecuador with the help of Walt Disney Feature Animation and the local
animation company Cinearte. The project aims to expand its reach to
the entire Latin American region.
- The success of Meena and Maximo has inspired another
major regional animation initiatives. An animated series on gender discrimination
in eastern and southern Africa called Sara is currently being undertaken.
The series deals with problems girls face in the region, including employment
exploitation, homelessness, lack of access to education, sexual abuse,
teen pregnancy and HIV AIDS.
- Animation is being used extensively in the Caribbean
to promote safe motherhood, AIDS awareness, early childhood development
and other life skills themes. Broadcasters have worked in partnership
with UNICEF and animators to ensure that these spots and short features
get maximum air time. The spots and features are also used in schools
throughout the region.
- We hope that the use of animation to communicate on
social and health issues will continue to flourish as we move beyond
the year 2000. It is our hope that as life-saving messages are increasingly
disseminated using this exciting and accessible medium of communication,
the number of childhood deaths from preventable causes will continue