A special day for children

CHILDREN are often told they are the future of tomorrow yet the world over millions of children continue to live a life of struggle, millions more lack basic needs and access to proper education and health facilities and countless others are deprived of the opportunities to better their lives.

A United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report on the State of the World’s Children 2016 framed a powerful reality about our children around the world when it revealed that “… millions of children are denied these rights and deprived of what they need to grow up healthy and strong — because of their place of birth, because of their race, ethnicity or gender, or because they have a disability or live in poverty”.

Indeed, a day like today holds a lot of meaning for stakeholders and the community involved in the development and welfare of our children. Today, November 20, is World Children’s Day. A day that marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the mobilisation of the first World Children’s Day.

A day set aside for children, by children, all over the world to help save children’s lives, fight for their rights and help them fulfil their potential, according to UNICEF. It’s a day set to dwell on the important role children can play in nation-building.

For seven decades, UNICEF continues to fight the good fight across 190 countries and territories, defending the rights of every child and working with stakeholders to ensure all children have “a right to survive, thrive and fulfill their potential — to the benefit of a better world”.

Latest data revealed 385 million children live in extreme poverty, 264 million children and youth are out of school and another 5.6 million children under the age of five died last year from preventable causes.

These are but a few of the many challenges that hinder the growth and development of children, factors that cripple their chances to survive, their chances to learn and their chances to dream.

Hope is not lost as there has been tremendous progress over the years to tackle those alarming figures. But the figures continue to remain at a staggering high.

It has been predicted that unless the world tackles inequity today, in 13 years according to UNICEF, 167 million children will live in extreme poverty, a further 69 million children under the age of five will die between 2016 and 2030, and 60 million children of primary school age will be out of school by 2030.

This year, in the lead up to World Children’s Day, UNICEF has teamed up with the media across the Pacific to ensure children are included in the planning and preparation for the day. According to UNICEF, children from around the Pacific will kick off World Children’s Day and take over key roles in media and entertainment to voice their support for millions of their peers who are unschooled, unprotected and uprooted.

“They will join children from Auckland to Amman and from New York to N’Djamena, and campaign through the media, in their schools and communities to help save children’s lives, fight for their rights and fulfill their potential. World Children’s Day will be a day for children, by children,” said UNICEF deputy director Justin Forsythe.

“We want children to be included wherever possible and to document this online and offline. We want a world where every child survives and grows up healthy, educated and protected from harm.”

UNICEF Pacific representative Sheldon Yett said they had never had so many partners in government, media and NGOs coming together to celebrate a day for children with children.

“We are also encouraging them to bring their child or children to work, even if for an hour and show them what you do.

“You never know how inspired they may be from watching and learning on the day,” he said.

So take a stand today for your children. Give them all the love and attention they deserve to grow up healthy and strong.

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