Tomorrow’s world belongs to children

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Tomorrow’s world belongs to children

Monday, 20 November 2023 | Kaninika Mitra/ Astha Alang

Tomorrow’s world belongs to children

This World Children’s Day, let us reiterate our commitment to safeguard children’s rights and ensure bright future for them

The anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on World Children’s Day is a cannot-miss opportunity for society collectively. to set the agenda and speak loudly for the universality of child rights.

Child rights, inherent to every child globally, must be enjoyed regardless of age, caste, religion, or gender. The UNCRC delineates these rights, encompassing crucial elements such as the right to survival, education, protection from harm, holistic development, participation in decisions, affirming identity, and fostering an inclusive environment for children to thrive.

Child rights are basic human rights and are fundamental to a prosperous and just society. Unfortunately, too many children across the world are being denied these rights. World Children's Day serves as a crucial reminder to refocus on safeguarding and nurturing children's fundamental principles and rights.

No Girl Should Miss Opportunities

However, gender biases pose a significant hurdle in achieving an equitable environment for every child. Evident not only in India but globally, these biases hinder the realisation of child rights, impacting both boys and girls differently. Boys often experience more freedom, while girls face limitations that hinder their potential and decision-making abilities, affecting various aspects including education, and marriage, and exposing them to social challenges like child marriage, teenage pregnancy, child labour, and missed opportunities in life. Boys can be involved in positive masculinity by championing girl’s issues. One of UNICEF’s programmes in Jharkhand – the child reporter’s programme which works with both girls and boys and empowers children – to champion issues in their community such as ending child marriage and education of the girl child among others.

Girls and boys when allowed to think and innovate – can be smart and innovate for social good. For this, girls must have equal access to books, digital devices, and resources to promote learning. Girls these days can aspire to have access to and choose any vocation or career. For this, all girls and boys must remain enrolled in secondary education. Addressing these challenges is crucial to fostering equity and inclusion for every child, irrespective of gender to build a society where every child's rights are respected without discrimination.

Empower Children And Adolescents For A Brighter Future

However, this ambition cannot be realised in isolation. Empowering children and adolescents is pivotal in fulfilling child rights. Adolescence, marked by rapid physical, and mental development, coupled with emotional and behavioural changes shapes their understanding of societal norms and gender. Upholding their rights during this crucial stage is essential, enabling them to make informed actions without discrimination and fostering a bias-free environment. Harnessing their potential allows them to actively participate in creating a more inclusive and just world for all children, especially the most vulnerable.

Education As A Catalyst

Education, as a basic child right itself, holds immense potential in shaping youths as advocates for child rights. Quality education not only breaks the cycle of poverty but also acts as a catalyst for addressing various social inequities. It nurtures critical thinking, empathy, and a sense of social responsibility, encouraging active involvement in initiatives centred on child welfare. It equips youths with legal understanding and leadership skills, empowering them to identify, prevent, and address violations of child rights. Despite its significance, barriers persist in achieving universal education access for all children. Overcoming these issues requires joint efforts from influential figures in a child’s life like parents and teachers. They are pivotal in instilling the value of education and fostering an understanding of child rights.

Our Responsibility For Promoting Child Rights

Parents, as primary caregivers, must initiate education by enabling a learning environment valuing every child's rights. Engaging in conversations and setting examples, can instil crucial values of respect, equality, and advocacy. Similarly, teachers play a vital role in shaping children's perceptions. Beyond academics, they serve as guides, and integrating child rights lessons into the curriculum and creating safe spaces for discussions on children's challenges, can inspire students to advocate for their rights and the rights of others.

Policymakers also wield significant influence in shaping child rights, and creating an environment that nurtures children's holistic development, ensuring their rights are respected and protected. They need to enforce laws ensuring access to education, healthcare, and protection from exploitation. Policies must prioritise equitable education access and essential healthcare services for all children while addressing issues like child labour and abuse. In its unwavering dedication to safeguarding child rights, UNICEF collaborates with governments, NGOs, corporations, and academic institutions, forming partnerships to ensure every child enjoys their rights. Through these diverse alliances, UNICEF extends its reach and impact, working collectively to safeguard and uphold the rights of every child worldwide.

On this World Children's Day, it's vital to recommit to these challenges. Let's not just talk about child rights but actively work to safeguard, advocate, and practice them. Our combined efforts today will shape a world where every child's rights are acknowledged and protected for the future.

(Dr. Kaninika Mitra is the Chief of UNICEF Jharkhand and Astha Alang is the Communication Specialist, UNICEF Jharkhand, views are personal)

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