Josip Broz Tito

Speech On the Occasion of the Opening of the Congress of the International Union for Child Welfare

Delivered: Zagreb; August 30, 1954; 
Source: Tito: Selected Speeches and Articles, 1941-1961 pp. 134-138; originally published in Book IX, p. 214-218; 
Published: Naprijed, 1963; 
Transciption/HTML Markup: Mike B. for MIA, 2015; 
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2015). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Comrades,

Allow me to thank you, at the very outset, for your invitation, which I have accepted with great satisfaction, to open this World Congress which is devoted to a really humanitarian aim, the welfare of children, the welfare of the younger generation, and preparing them to lead the lives of useful citizens. I should like to emphasise that I am particularly gratified that the International Union for Child Welfare should have chosen this country to hold its Congress thus showing, in addition to its preoccupation with the overall problem of child welfare, its appreciation of the efforts being made, and the results achieved, in the field of child welfare in this country.

We live at a time when all the nations of the world have come to the conclusion that child welfare, welfare for the younger generation, is a matter for the whole nation, that is, for the whole social community, as a question of vital importance not only for the correct development of the young, but also for the vitality and viability of nations, and so they are making, to the best of their abilities, great efforts to secure conditions for the normal development of children both in a physical and also in a cultural sense. In this field significant and encouraging results have undoubtedly been achieved. In particular much has been done to reduce mortality among children, which in some countries, particularly the underdeveloped ones, still reaches alarming proportions. But thanks to the humanitarian activity of the United Nations, national organisations, and individual Governments, excellent results in this respect have been achieved in some countries. Today we have the comforting circumstance that there are an increasing number of countries which have introduced compulsory health safety measures for the youngest children and compulsory schooling, and are taking pains to ensure that as many opportunities as possible are given for children to be brought up and educated in a proper manner. In some countries large material funds are given for child welfare, but in others, unfortunately, economic possibilities do not permit this because development in certain parts of the world, in certain particular countries, has not flowed uniformly and does not do so today. There is an excessive disparity between the economic bases of certain countries which have developed under historically favourable circumstances and other countries which, through no fault of their own but due to the influence of various circumstances, are still economically undeveloped or underdeveloped; and it is clear that successful and fruitful work in the field of child welfare demands at least a minima! standard of appropriate economic development.

In addition to all these economic reasons, difficulties in the way of child welfare also arise as a result of the after-effects of the war, for children are nearly always the chief sufferers, and this was particularly the case in World War II, when because of war devastation millions of children were left not only without parents but even without enough to eat and without anyone to look after them, so that assistance from outside was essential to alleviate distress and make it possible for the children to be looked after. Great credit is due to the United Nations and its members, and to individual national organisations, for their efforts in looking after children, for they, applying the experiences of countries which have shown significant and satisfactory results in the field of child care, have been exerting tremendous efforts to assist, with the co-operation and help of the rest of the world, in implementing as quickly and efficiently as possible fundamental measures for ensuring at least minimal conditions for the overall development of the rising generation.

I am convinced that the method chosen by the majority of countries and by the United Nations itself together with its ancillary bodies, the method of affording technical and material assistance to underdeveloped countries, is the correct one, and that it gives prominent results not only in that it affords effective help in the welfare of children but also because it makes a significant contribution to better understanding and friendly co-operation in the world. Consequently, the activities of all the national organisations ought to be developed in this direction, and new forms and methods of affording assistance should be continually introduced, the activities and results achieved in connection with the implementation of such aid should be investigated and analysed and the relevant material and subject matter should be elaborated to discover the best method of implementing it. In taking over the experiences of other countries particular attention must always be paid to the conditions under which they are to be applied, to the material resources and personnel which a given country has at its disposal. I am convinced that this Congress will make a valuable contribution in this respect and that it will constitute a forward step in the field of universal child welfare.

Our country is particularly interested in the successes achieved, through social activities, in other countries in the field of child welfare, because we attach great importance to this matter and wish to take advantage of every positive achievement. This is understandable, for even during the Liberation War we gave top priority to the problem of child welfare. We did so because, due to the appalling conditions created by the war, our children were in very great danger. Total war and the occupier's physical extermination first of all of the adult population created a basis for the terrible dangers that threatened the children of this country. And then, while they were engaged in armed struggle against the occupier and exerting all their efforts to liberate the country, our peoples, although in great want, found ways and means, with what success they could, of giving top priority to the urgent problem of the care of their children. Today we are devoting, as we have done in the past, in the war, and as we shall continue to do in the future, the greatest attention to problems directly connected with rearing and educating children and the youth.

As with the United Nations on a larger scale, our new people's authorities realized, right at the beginning, the significance which properly established child welfare holds for the future development of our country and its peoples. In addition to the large number of children who were left without one or both parents, as a result of the enormous devastation and destruction inflicted by the occupier upon our country, there were numberless families without roofs to their heads and without the bare minimum for their subsistence. After the liberation a huge and heavy task awaited us in connection with the need for urgent help to uncared-for children. In order to afford them urgent and effective assistance in the immediate post-war years, we went ahead with the group settlement of children in various institutions and by 1951 we had brought the number of institutions up to 1,966 with a total of 174,909 children in their charge. We also made it possible for the children to spend their summer holidays at public expense in collective summer resorts. The number of such resorts in 1950 amounted to 653, and 214,286 children were accommodated in them. In the insufficiently settled conditions of the post-war period we have devoted considerable attention to supplementing children's food outside their homes, and in this UNICEF has afforded us a great deal of assistance. Thus, in 1951, we provided 807,164 children with one hot meal a day in school and milk kitchens, whereby the children, particularly of poor families, were saved from hunger and given an opportunity to learn.

With economic and social development, and with the successes that our people have been achieving daily, the material circumstances of the family have been improved, and in this way an opportunity has been provided for the family to solve, with as few difficulties as possible the problem of rearing and educating children. Our social policy in relation to the family has in the first instance been to enable the family to solve the problem of child welfare in the best way. A particularly significant role in this respect has been played by our system of child allowances. This, it goes without saying, has inevitably led to a gradual reduction in the number and capacity of certain child and juvenile institutions, but other forms of child welfare have assumed an increasing significance. In addition to increasing the opportunities for families themselves to rear and educate their children, the sharp increase in the past two years in the number of societies for child education and welfare must also be emphasised, as must the successes of these societies in making a start on certain questions relating to the welfare and education of children and the youth.

It goes without saying that this is also the aim of the other countries represented at this Congress. It will be very useful for our delegates and all the other participants at the Congress to be acquainted with these experiences; it will also be useful to establish at this Conference even firmer ties between the organisations of individual countries for the welfare and upbringing of children.

I should like in conclusion to emphasise the following: everything that we are doing today, that is, everything that is being done for children by various organisations and state authorities in the world, is a praiseworthy and humane work of direct benefit to every country individually. However, is this a satisfactory solution in our work to attain the aims towards which we are striving, if mankind fails to remove the dangers threatening children and the young generation generally? Are not the principal causes of all the major ills in the world the wars which assume increasingly catastrophic characteristic and proportions when they do appear? These are the principal causes of evil, not only for children and the younger generation but for the whole of humanity, and no effort or sacrifice must be spared to eliminate them in order to achieve the ideal for which mankind is irresistibly striving. I am convinced that co-operation between various countries in the field of child welfare also has a part to play in safeguarding peace in the world and creating peaceful cooperation among nations.

In wishing this important Congress much success in its work and in its efforts to make beneficial decisions relating to the welfare of children and the younger generation in general, I send my warm greetings and best wishes for success both to the children themselves and to all who understand the problems and are making their contribution towards the achievement of this humanitarian and universal goal, the welfare of children.

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