Around the globe, World Children’s Day is celebrated on 20 November to advocate for child rights, promote international action to improve children’s well-being, and ensure children’s voices are heard regarding the world they will inherit. The date is significant, as the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child on 20 November 1959 and adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on 20 November 1989.
The CRC established a template for advocacy that focuses on every child’s right to an education; to health care; to protection from violence, exploitation, and war; to support after trauma; to opportunities to play and express themselves; and more. Tragically, children worldwide still are being denied their most basic rights, experiencing child labor, child marriage and pregnancy, trafficking, recruitment into armed forces, poverty, and sexual and physical violence. Furthermore, access to health care, quality education, and opportunities for optimal development and growth is often limited to only the most economically and socially advantaged.
Advocacy on behalf of and by children is particularly important in the wake of the significant disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. As health care systems become overloaded, caretakers lose employment, schools close, and stress levels rise, children’s civil, political, economic, social, health, and cultural rights are being compromised further.
This year, on World Children’s Day, Childhood Education International is focusing on the need to ensure a positive childhood experience for all the children of the world. The challenges are undeniably daunting, but they can all be overcome if we unite to improve certain components of children’s lives.
The important elements of a positive childhood experience are:
- Safe places for living and learning, with proper nutrition, access to health care, and protection from violence and war
- Strong families and loving, consistent caregivers
- Social interactions and friendships to build interpersonal skills and a sense of belonging
- Physical activity and opportunities for creative expression
- Interaction with the natural environment and stewardship experiences
- Education that develops the full capacities of the child—cognitive, physical, social, emotional, and ethical
- Nurturing, child-friendly communities that support child and youth participation
- Growing independence and decision making