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Eglantyne Jebb - originator of Save the Children
Save the Children International
Save the Children Norway
History of Save the Children Norway in Russia





Eglantyne Jebb - originator of Save the Children

 Eglantyne Jebb was the founder of the worldwide Save the Children organization which was inaugurated in 1919. Today Save the Children is the 3rd largest organization in the world created by woman with 14 000 staff working in 130 countries worldwide. Save the Children was born British 90 years ago and is now multinational. A non-religious organization, it deals with both relief and development focused on children, like UNICEF at the intergovernmental level.

Being a co-founder of the Save the Children movement, the first truly effective international aid organization, in 1923 Eglantyne Jebb drafted a declaration of the Rights of the Child.  These five simple statements were endorsed by the League of Nations in 1924.  Eventually an extended, seven statement declaration became the UN’s “Rights of the Child”, now ratified by all countries on earth except the United States and Somali.

In 1915 the Jebb sisters moved the “Fight the Famine Council” (established by them) to set up a separate committee to consider the needs of children. Thus on 19 May 1919, a new organization was created, the “Save the Children Fund” as a special relief fund.  That day in a full glare of publicity Eglantyne and Dorothy Jebb announced the Save the Children Fund in the London’s famed Albert Hall.

In its first year, the fund raised more than 400,000 pounds, in the knowledge that money would be instantly translated into tins of milk, hospital supplies and clothing to help children throughout famine in war-stricken areas. All in all, the launch of the Fund was a big success, and money came in from across the country. Within weeks of starting up, Save was distributing aid in Berlin and Austria.

Jebb was forty-three when she founded the Fund, and for the next nine years it became her whole life. The first branch was opened in Scotland in 1919, and by the end of 1921, there were 300 branches across the UK.   
Eglantyne also was quoted in 1919 as saying something which became a principle of Save's future work:

"All wars are waged against children".

Throughout 1919 and 1920, Save the Children received many protests, as they were providing aid to both the victors and the vanquished of World War I. Though one of Jebb’s biographies quotes her as saying:

“The SCF pays no regard to politics, race or religion.  A child is a child, whether red, white, brown or black”

 Eglantyne's belief was that “The only international language is a child’s cry”.

Save the Children International

It was on January 6th, 1920, that Eglantyne succeeded in starting the International Save the Children Union, in Geneva.  Eglantyne built up excellent relationships with other Geneva-based organizations, including the Red Cross who supported Save’s International foundation.

Eglantyne believed that every country should do its best to help its own people, and not just rely on aid. So as Save became a success across the British Empire - and spread to Ireland, the United States, Scandinavia and many other countries - the focus was not just on relief for war victims, but also for the disadvantaged children of each country.  of the aid was channeled to adults.  It was Eglantyne’s firm opinion that Children had the greatest need.  She wrote:

“Every generation of children, in fact, offers mankind the possibility of rebuilding his ruin of a world”.  

 Save the Children closed its Russian programme in the summer of 1923. Above all Eglantyne was inspired by the unprecedented level of international co-operation achieved, with nineteen nations and many different relief agencies eventually supporting the Saratov feeding programme. It was an example that would inform all of the Fund's future work. Eglantyne wrote of the Russian relief effort,

"We set out to save the lives of children, but if we remain true to this ideal [of international co-operation]... we may make a worthy contribution to the task of saving the soul of the world."

 An extract from one letter we received from a family in Russia:

Petrograd, 8th July, 1922.
"I send you my deepest thanks for the loving care and never failing kindness you have bestowed on my daughter and for the way in which you have helped her during the most terrible moments of her life." 

Through the children Eglantyne Jebb saw the best hope of lasting peace.

 1921 summer the devastating famine in Russia became the overriding international emergency.  The acute shortage of any food supplies pushed the Russian government to apply to other countries and the international community for help. The Save the Children Fund was the one to immediately respond.

 Save the Children first worked with several other organizations to feed and educate thousands of Russian refugee children in Turkey and elsewhere. This was fairly uncontroversial and unproblematic work that the Fund was well placed to undertake, earning them the praise of the League of Nations. At the end of August however the International Union agreed to act as agent for the transport and distribution of relief supplies provided by nineteen co-operating nations to one of the worst hit provinces inside Russia; Saratov on the River Volga.

The Declaration of the Rights of the Child was authored by Eglantyne in 1923, and first published in Save’s magazine, “The World’s Children”.  This was immediately adopted by the Save the Children International Union, and with Eglantyne’s lobbying was then adopted by the League of Nations in 1924.  It reads:

“Formulated by the Save the Children International Union, Geneva, 1923, and adopted by the Fifth Assembly of the League of Nations, 1924. 
By the present declaration of the Rights of the Child, commonly known as the declaration of Geneva, men and women of all nations, recognizing that mankind owes to the Child the best that it has to give, declare and accept it as their duty that beyond and above all considerations of race, nationality or creed:

  1. THE CHILD must be given the means requisite for its normal development, both materially and spiritually.
  2. THE CHILD that is hungry must be fed; the child that is sick must be nursed; the child that is backward must be helped; the delinquent child must be reclaimed; and the orphan and waif must be sheltered and succoured.
  3. THE CHILD must be the first to receive relief in times of distress.
  4. THE CHILD must be put in a position to earn a livelihood, and must be protected against every form of exploitation.
  5. THE CHILD must be brought up in the consciousness that its talents must be devoted to the service of its fellow-men.”

The 5 paragraph statement later became 7 paragraphs, and in 1959 was the basis for the United Nations “Declaration on the Rights of the Child”. 

As well as the development of the Declaration, Save the Children conducted serious research into the most forms of effective aid – always guided by Eglantyne’s belief that “Help must be given in return for help”.  Many of the results were published in Save’s “The World’s Children”, which became the leading journal on the subject.  Summer training schools for Save the Children staff were run in Geneva. And Save organized the first International Child Welfare Congress in 1925.

Eglantyne laid down very clear principles of action, enabling others to map their own paths and programs, even after her death. To quote Save the Children’s website, these can best be summarized as: Today Save the Children operates in 130 countries across the world.  It is one of the world’s largest aid agencies, and one of its most innovative - still following Eglantyne’s principles, in all the countries Save the Children operates in.
Her principles, in the form of the “Rights of the Child”, have also been fully embraced by the United Nations.  Few people have left such a positive legacy for the world’s social well being.

  • aid should be given in a planned, scientific manner;
  • aid should be preceded by careful research;
  • aid should be directed towards families;
  • aid should be given on the basis of need and not any sectarian basis;
  • aid should be constructive, self-sustaining;
  • aid should stimulate self-help;
  • aid should be pioneering, and able to develop models for others to follow.

Eglantyne was thorough, an excellent organizer, and she consistently helped develop practical and long-term oriented programs.
A great action-plan example was her insistence on using modern management methods to run the fledgling Save the Children Fund. Building an effective area management structure in the UK branch system was another, organizational enabler.

After inaugurating the International Save the Children Union, the Enabler with arguably the greatest impact was Eglantyne’s Declaration of the Rights of the Child. This was not only an aspirational statement, but it also provided clear rules for action and measurement. It truly changed the way the World thought about and acted upon children’s issues.

Today Save the Children International is the world’s largest independent organisation for children, making a difference to children’s lives in over 120 countries. From emergency relief to long-term development, Save the Children helps children to achieve a happy, healthy and secure childhood. Save the Children listens to children, involves children and ensures their views are taken into account.

Our Mission
Save the Children fights for children's rights. We deliver immediate and lasting improvements to children’s lives worldwide.

Our vision
Save the ChildrenInternational works for:

  • a world which respects and values each child
  • a world which listens to children and learns
  • a world where all children have hope and opportunity 

Save the Children Norway (SCN)

SCN a non-governmental member organisation which is party-politically and religiously neutral. Our values are built upon the UN Declaration on the rights of the Child and the Human Rights Declaration. The National member congress is the highest authority and meet every second year. The main task of the executive board is to ensure strategic development, reasonable administration and organisation of its work.

Save the Children Norway has offices in Oslo, Kristiansand, Trondheim, Bergen and Tromsø. Together they cover all regions in Norway.

SCN History

1946: Save the Children Norway was founded on April 16th 1946.

1959: The UN General Assembly passes the Declaration of the Right of the Child on the 20th of November. It becomes the foundation for Save the Children´s work.

1961: Save the Children Norway starts its first planned project with a duration of various years in Tanzania against leprocy. This is a joint effort between Save the Children Norway and Save the Children Sweden.

1975: The Campaign “Ethiopia is starving” on the Election Day in October gives NOK 5 million and is at this point the most successful fundraising campaign ever for Save the Children Norway.

1976: An earth quake in Guatamala takes more than 25 000 lives. The catastrophy leads to a pioneer cooperation between several Save the Children organisations which was the first ever consolidation of their efforts.

1989: The UN General Assembly passes the UN Convention on the right of the Child on the 20th of November, and Save the Children from now on defines itself as a Child rights organisation.

History of Save the Children Norway in Russia (SCNiR)

In 2004 Save the Children Norway in Russia was registered as an International Non-Governmental Organization with the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation.

In 2005 SCNiR started a permanent office in Murmansk. 


Our work is aimed at child support in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

During 2009-2010 SCNiR had direct cooperation with the Association of Ombudspersons for Children in the Russian Federation. As a result of this cooperation gratitude letter was given to SCNiR by the Child Rights Ombudsperson under the President of the Russian Federation.


SCNiR supports projects implemented jointly with the Russian governmental partner organizations, that prioritizes partner managed approach and ensures transparent system of project management and accountability along with long lasting and sustainable improvements for children.


The fundamental basis for our programme work is the values of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child ratified by the Russian Federation. The Convention on the Rights of the Child embraces a whole set of rights for children which SCNiR is advocating for.

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