Today, there are more than 2.2 billion children on Earth. Nearly two billion of these live in a developing country. Every child has rights, whatever their ethnicity, gender, religion, language, abilities or any other status. Yet many children across the globe are in desperate situations where these rights will be neither upheld or enjoyed. You see, children need adults to realise their rights. And very often the very adults in their world let them down.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has 54 articles that cover all aspects of a child’s life and set out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that all children everywhere are entitled to. It also explains how adults and governments must work together to make sure all children can enjoy all their rights.
The Convention must be seen as a whole: all the rights are linked and no right is more important that another. The right to relax and play (Article 31) and the right to freedom of expression (Article 13) have equal importance as the right to be safe from violence (Article 19) and the right to education (Article 28).
The UNCRC is also the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world – it’s even been accepted by non-state entities, such as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), a rebel movement in South Sudan. All UN member states except for the United States of America have ratified the Convention. The UK signed it in 1990, and it came into UK law in 1992. Zambia signed it on 30 September 1990 and ratified it on December 6 1991 without any reservations. Despite this, the UNCRC has only been partially incorporated into domestic law. To read more, please see a report by the Children in Need Networ, Zambia (http://www.africafiles.org/article.asp?ID=19063)
Today is the United Nations Universal Children’s Day, established in 1954 and celebrated on November 20th each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.
November 20th is an important date as it is the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
We can all play a part in making part in making Universal Children’s Day relevant for their societies, communities and nations. This important 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.
At the core of our work, is the desire for children to realise both their rights and responsibilities. In particular we are concerned about children’s right to protection (Article 19) and their right to participation in matters that affect them (Article 12).
TouchTalk is an innovative programme which helps children keep safe. Children can participate in their own protection using an interactive puppet-based story about three friends who find themselves facing a devastating situation of sexual abuse. In a relevant, age appropriate and engaging approach, children learn the following messages to help them keep safe.
- I am special and so are you
- Safety is my right
- My body belongs to me
- I can get help
Recently, one of our partners Mwana Ministries facilitated TouchTalk with children involved in their programmes. Here are some of their photos….
Let’s celebrate children today. Let’s notice those children with whom we may be in contact or doing life with today. They are special little people with beliefs, values, opinions, dreams and desires. They were created by God, each unique with individual gifts and a with a purpose in this life. Let’s encourage our children to reach out to other children, empower them to realise their right to have a voice and equip them with skills to protect themselves. Our children need us as adults to be behind them, to believe in them and to encourage them to be all that they were created to be.