“You will understand when you are older.” This is a common phrase among every young person below the age of 18 years around the globe. A phrase that has limited the capability of most individuals and infringed on the rights of children.
November 20th is an important date – World Children’s Day! First established in 1954 as Universal Children’s Day to promote international togetherness and awareness among children and the key to improving children’s welfare.
Since 1990, World Children’s Day marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the Declaration and the convention on children’s rights. These rights are stated as follows:
- A child should enjoy social protection and be given opportunities, facilities, and means to enable development physically, mentally, morally and spiritually in conditions of freedom and dignity.
- A child shall be entitled from birth to a name and nationality. The child shall be entitled to grow and develop in health and shall have the right to adequate nutrition, housing, recreation, and medical services.
- A child who is physically, mentally or socially handicapped shall be given special treatment, education, and care.
- A child needs love and understanding. And shall have the right to grow up in an atmosphere of affection and security.
- A child is entitled to receive education and an opportunity to develop abilities to overcome useful members of society. The child shall in all circumstances be among the first to receive protection and relief in times of emergency and disaster.
- A child shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty, and exploitation and shall not be admitted to employment before an appropriate minimum age.
- A child shall be protected from practices which may foster racial, religious or other forms of discrimination and shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood.
This day offers each of us an inspirational entry-point to advocate, promote and celebrate children’s rights, translating into dialogues and actions that will build a better world for children.
Mothers and fathers, teachers, nurses and doctors, government leaders and civil society activists, religious and community elders, corporate moguls and media professionals, as well as young people and children themselves, can play an important part in making World Children’s Day relevant for their societies, communities, and nations.
Over the past 30 years, children’s lives have been transformed. More than 50 percent reduction in child mortality rate. The proportion of undernourished children has halved since 19190. Unlike in 1990, 2.6 billion more people have access to cleaner drinking water today.
However, urgent action is needed to make sure every child, has every right. There is still a staggering number of children and youths who are out of school. 650 million girls are married off before their 18th birthday. 1 in 4 children will still live in areas with extremely limited water resources by 2040 – a need that should be addressed sooner.
Today and now on this anniversary day, it is extra special. It is a time to celebrate and demand action for children’s rights. They have become part of the most comprehensive treaty for the protection and support of children in history.
The children of today will make our tomorrow. The way we bring them up will determine the future of tomorrow.