The Woman Who Saved the Children
Behind every great movement, there is a leader with an even greater vision. And for Save the Children that very special woman was Eglantyne Jebb. In the aftermath of World War I, there was a punishing blockade against the losing side of the conflict. But children suffered the most.
That’s when Eglantyne started handing out leaflets in London’s bustling Trafalgar Square with a shocking photo of two emaciated children. Above it the headline read: ‘Our Blockade has caused this – millions of children are starving to death’.
Eglantyne was arrested and put on trial for her protest against the inhumane impact of the blockade on children. At her trial she was found guilty, but the judge was so impressed with her that he offered to pay her fine. It was the first donation to the charity she went on to found, Save the Children.
Yet her ambitions went further, telling world leaders, “I believe we should claim certain rights for children and labor for their universal recognition.” The Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which Jebb wrote, was adopted by the League of Nations in 1924. Three decades later it inspired the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, now signed by almost every country in the world.
She dreamed of a world where no child should suffer extreme and life-threatening hardship. Today, there are signs that the world is making real progress towards her vision. The dramatic recent progress the world has made in saving children’s lives has brought us to a pivotal moment in human history. We have the opportunity to be the first generation to ensure that no child dies from preventable diseases, and that every child gets the chance to fulfill their potential.
“I believe we should claim certain rights for children and labor for their universal recognition.”
That’s the vision that inspired Eglantyne to found Save the Children nearly a hundred years ago. Today, with that historic opportunity closer than ever before, her message has never been more relevant.