In recognition of the great importance for promoting and safeguarding the rights of a child, ‘Universal Children’s Day’ is celebrated annually and this year is on Friday 20th November. Theoretically, celebrating Universal Children's Day is about recognising children as active participants in their own lives and communities, or as active citizens who can and should meaningfully contribute to their own decision-making.
A child is classed as any person below the age of 18 years old. The main characteristic of a child is their youth and vulnerability. As a child grows towards future adulthood, they have no means to protect themselves and because of this children need to be the objects of particular interest and protection. All humans are entitled to be able to enjoy basic human rights, which are the standards required so that people can live with dignity and in safety. By ratifying the United Nations Convention on the rights of a child, society ensures that all children are treated with dignity and respect, including the opportunity for them to have a voice, be protected from harm and be provided with all basic needs in order to reach their full potential.
It is a fact that children's rights are human rights; protecting the child as a human being. Children across world have the right to live life with no discrimination and to develop physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Children also have civil and political rights; such as the right to an identity and nationality, additionally economic, social and cultural rights, including the significant right to health and education. Undoubtedly, it is very important for all adults and governments to recognise the right of every child, so they have access to the world, to learn through play and to feel a valued and empowered member of their community.
However, a multitude of children around the world are still exploited, abused and discriminated against. Tragically, every year millions of children's lives are cut short by entirely preventable causes. For instance, treatable illnesses, malnutrition, poor hygiene or lack of safe water and sanitation are usually the reasons for many of these deaths. There are children around us affected by armed conflict, in conflict with the law or in the care of the state. Additionally, there are children living on the streets, coping with disabilities, experiencing sexual exploitation, or suffering from discrimination because of their religious or ethnic minority status.
In conclusion, every child has the right to grow and thrive, no matter of circumstances or socioeconomic backgrounds.
As adults, let us make a promise to children. We must do everything in our power to protect and promote their rights to survive, learn and to make their voices heard. After all, as a teacher I strongly believe that when we educate our children we empower our communities. The development and education of a child is not only a universal right, it is a powerful tool to break the cycles of poverty, disease and social inequity. The best gift we can give to the world is to ensure a safe, healthy, educated and able future generation.
Ritsa Michael - Kids Club Supervisor
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