Unilever joins Every Woman Every Child

24/09/12 -Unilever has announced ambitious commitments to save millions of lives in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa after signing up to the UN-led initiative Every Woman Every Child.

Unilever joins Every Woman Every Child

Improving health & wellbeing

We are aiming to increase access to basic sanitation, hygiene and nutrition programmes for millions of children across South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa as part of our Sustainable Living Plan goal to improve the health and wellbeing of 1 billion people by 2020. This will help the UN achieve its global target to reduce under-5 deaths by 2015.

We are committed to changing the hygiene habits of one billion people, bringing safe drinking water to 500 million people, improving access to basic sanitation and improving the diets of 500,000 malnourished children.

CEO Paul Polman says: ‘’That a child dies every six seconds from hunger – and that two million children die every year from preventable diseases tells us that our entire system is not working. Business cannot stand by in a system which fails the most vulnerable children. We have a responsibility to act. For Unilever, building a better society and a better business goes hand in hand’’.

Stopping preventable diseases

Diarrhoea and pneumonia are two of the biggest global causes of death for children under the age of five. Together, they kill more than 2 million children a year.

However, regular handwashing with soap is one of the easiest and cost-effective ways to stop the spread of disease. Independent studies show that handwashing with soap cuts the risk of diarrhoea by up to 45% and pneumonia by up to 19%.

We are also bringing safe and affordable drinking water to millions more people through our innovative Pureit water purifier. Studies reveal that cases of diarrhoea are reduced by up to 50% in households that have a Pureit filter.

Meanwhile our Domestos brand is working with UNICEF’s Community Approaches to Total Sanitation programme to improve basic sanitation facilities across the developing world. This will help 400,000 people through building toilets and improving hygiene habits.

Providing essential nutrition

As a co-founder of Project Laser Beam - a transformational partnership between the private sector, World Food Programme and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition - we aim to reach 500,000 malnourished children through school feeding and hygiene programmes along with income generation activities for women by 2015.

Jonathan Tench, Unilever’s Global Advocacy Manager for International Development adds: ‘’Every year, 6.9 million children die before they reach their fifth birthday. A third of these deaths are caused by diarrhoeal disease and pneumonia – both can be significantly reduced through promoting handwashing with soap. Poor nutrition and hygiene and lack of access to clean water and basic sanitation, like toilets, are all underlying causes of these needless deaths.

‘’Unilever will not stand by while we can act to stop this. By bringing life-saving products and programmes to people through sustainable business models – and working with governments and partners – we’re creating sustainable solutions to these huge problems.’’

By joining more than 200 companies, governments, academic institutions and NGOs involved in Every Woman Every Child, we can help it achieve its goal of saving the lives of 16 million women and children, and improving the health of many more, by 2015.