Saturday 20 November marks World Children’s Day and the 32nd anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Over a half-century after the observance day was established in 1954 to improve children’s welfare, this year attention is placed on engaging everyone in advocacy for children’s rights.
UNICEF has created tailored content that details how stakeholders, from youth to teachers to businesses, can engage in meaningful activities that support child development and protection. Through a letter from Executive Director Henrietta Fore, UNICEF focuses on governments and their role in enacting sweeping changes to improve the outlook and lives for today’s children. Framed as opportunities, Ms. Fore identifies the following five areas for improvement:
- Building trust in vaccines
- Bridging the digital divide in education
- Supporting mental health of young people
- Ending discrimination
- Addressing climate change
This is in response to failed efforts to create safeguards for the current generation of children, which have suffered significant setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some key threats to child well-being, pulled from the UNICEF COVID-19 and Children Data Hub, include:
- At least 463 million children worldwide were unable to access remote learning in 2020.
- An estimated 6-7 million additional children suffered from wasting during 2020.
- 10 million additional children marriages may occur by the end of 2030.
- 66% of countries reporting disruptions in services that address violence against children.
One key group determined not to ignore the increased challenges among children is youth. The digital community Voices of Youth is a hub for young leaders to come together and share their solutions to challenges surrounding them. A recent blog series highlights UNICEF Youth Advocates, diverse and daring individuals from around the world who boldly stand up, speak out, and act in the face of obstacles. Profiled activists include a 16-year old chef in Morocco, a 17-year old displaced teen fighting for equal access to education in Sudan, and a 14-year-old environmentalist in Pakistan repurposing newspapers in sustainable ways.
CE International has also recently been fortunate to connect with a group of such trailblazers, the Habitat Youth Leaders (HYL). The group of four high school students based in California and New Jersey, USA, created HYL at the start of the pandemic because they were concerned about younger children’s inability to engage in the social interactions they did at the same age. Their goal of “fostering soft skills” among small children has led to the creation of digital seminars that connect to children through local libraries, a demonstration of empathy, foresight, and leadership on the part of the HYL team. Their work is featured in the latest edition of Childhood Education: Innovations.
“Children do not accept that we should return to normal after this pandemic because normal was never good enough.” – Henriette Fore, UNICEF Executive Director