At UNICEF-UM, we work to fundraise, advocate, and educate on behalf of UNICEF USA. We believe in the protection of children and advance innovative campaigns and mobilization initiatives to help others recognize the power of their voices. Everyone can make an impact.
This year, for our second annual gala, we are focusing on ending child marriage in the United States of America. UNICEF defines child marriage as "a harmful practice and a violation of child rights and believes that marriage under age 18 should be prohibited in all circumstances, everywhere." Both UNICEF and the United Nations declare child marriage a human rights violation.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals call for the end to child marriage, citing pervasive gender, political, and economic inequalities as instigators. Child marriage is often forced. It occurs for a variety of reasons - from sexual predation to patriarchial practices, and cultural traditions to coercion. Child marriage increases rates of teen pregnancy, divorce, poverty, and mental health issues.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, over 100 million children were expected to be married before the age of 18 within the decade. Yet, since the pandemic, 13 million more are now at risk. Within the United States, there is no federal law to prohibit child marriage with many states having no minimum age for marriage.
While our gala seeks to celebrate the work of our incredible members over the past academic year, and recognize and send off our seniors, we also hope to inspire our university community to take action with us in an effort to protect children.
** All proceeds will go directly to UNICEF USA's efforts to protect the rights of children**
**UNICEF at the University of Michigan is committed to following UNICEF USA's child-safeguarding best practices **
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save children's lives, defend their rights, and help them fulfill their potential, from early childhood through adolescence. The UNICEF Campus Initiative at the University of Michigan plays a powerful role in this mission. As one of the 600 active Campus Initiative Clubs around the country, members of UNICEF at Michigan strive to educate, advocate and fundraise on behalf of UNICEF, in order to reach zero preventable deaths. Our projects range from advocacy campaigns, educational initiatives, symposiums, panels, community service and tutoring, social events, and so much more.
Our organization boasts over 70 active members, 31 committee members, 7 committees, and 3 special project teams for undergraduate and graduate students in Ann Arbor.
UNICEF at Michigan welcomes three special guests:
Dr. Fatma Müge Göçek: Dr. Göçek is UNICEF UM's faculty advisor and Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan.
Her research focuses on the comparative analysis of history, politics, and gender in the first and third worlds. She critically analyzes the impact of processes such as development, nationalism, religious movements, and collective violence on minorities. She is currently working on a theory book, constructing social theory from the vantage point of minorities. Learn more here.
Paul Callejas: Paul is a Community Engagement Associate for the Midwestern United States and has become an integral connection for UNICEF UM's members who are eager to take their commitment to UNICEF USA to the next level. We welcome Paul as our special guest to thank him for his immense efforts in community mobilization and youth empowerment.
Paul grew up in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago. Being a product of the public school system, Paul believes that all youth deserve an equal chance of success. He has defeated many socioeconomic barriers as an indigenous man from Guerrero, Mexico; Paul has over six years of youth development and project planning, working with various non-profit organizations. He aspires to help as many Chicago teens reach their potential and become global citizens. Learn more here.
Alicia Godsberg, Deputy Director of Global Programs at UNICEF USA & Keynote Speaker
Alicia has been with the Global Programs team at UNICEF USA (UUSA) since July 2016. Her portfolio covers UNICEF’s work in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and climate, energy, environment, and disaster risk reduction (CEED); she also supervises work on UNICEF’s Health and HIV/AIDS portfolios. Prior to working at UUSA, Alicia served as the Executive Director of Peace Action New York State and was the Research Associate for the Strategic Security Program and UN Affairs at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, D.C. Alicia has a master’s degree in political science from The Graduate Center of the City University of New York and received her undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Michigan. Learn more here.