Universal Children’s Day is celebrated every year on 20th November to spread worldwide awareness among the children, bring them together and take steps for their welfare. Universal Children’s Day was first proclaimed by the United Kingdom in 1954, and has been observed on 20th November since 1956; though, every country doesn’t stick to the date and celebrate an International Children’s Day on 1st June.
Universal Children’s Day 2019
This year the Universal Children’s Day 2019 was celebrated on Wednesday, 20th November. This year the celebrations also marked the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Almost all the landmark buildings from around the world were lighted up in blue on Universal Children’s Day to express support for child rights. Schools and educational institutions, throughout the globe, organized different programs to raise awareness about child rights and also to inform the children about their own rights and privileges. Classrooms, offices were also decorated in blue to raise awareness.
UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) has released a report on Monday, November 18th, which states that though the world has made progress on the issue of child rights, still, there is a lot to be done for the children from underprivileged sections.
The event aims at calling on the world leaders to safeguards the rights of children worldwide in a non-negotiable and uncompromising way.
UNICEF India will be working in close collaboration with the Government of India to deal with issues like infant mortality, child education, health, and welfare. The agency is in the process of training the ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) at the block level. These ASHA workers play a crucial role of a bridge between the families with high pregnancy risk and the nearest health center. They also advise and provide guidance to family members.
Universal Children’s Day – History
Universal Children’s Day was first established by the United Nations General Assembly through a 1954 Resolution. The General Assembly suggested that “Universal Children’s Day be observed on the date and in a way each considers appropriate”. Since then the Universal Children’s Day has been celebrated on 20th November; though, some countries observe a similar day – International Children’s Day on June 1st.
Further, on 20th November 1959, a Declaration of the Rights of the Child was adopted by the United Nations. The declaration is an international document promoting child rights sometimes also known as the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child. This Adopted Declaration was an extended form of the original Declaration of the Rights of Child (1924) drafted by a British Social Reformer, Eglantyne Jebb and was adopted by the League of Nations in 1924. The exact texts as in the declaration are provided below-
- The child must be given means requisite for its normal development, both materially and spiritually.
- The child that is hungry must be fed, the child that is sick must be nursed, the child that is backward must be helped, the delinquent child must be reclaimed, and the orphan and the waif must be sheltered and succored.
- The child must be the first to receive relief in times of distress.
- The child must be put in a position to earn a livelihood and must be protected against every form of exploitation.
- The child must be brought up in consciousness that its talents must be devoted to the service of its fellow men.
The original document is still preserved in the archives of the city of Geneva and carries the signature of various international delegates.
The United Nations also adopted a Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on 20th November 1989. It is an International Human Rights Treaty that sets out the civil, social, cultural, health and political rights of the children.
Significance of Universal Children’s Day
Universal Children’s Day is a significant global event that safeguards the rights of children throughout the globe. All the relevant agencies like the United Nations, UNICEF, and governments, organize a number of events across the globe to promote welfare of the children and to protect their rights.
Despite the economic and social progress made in the past decades, the state of children has largely been neglected, mainly in the developing and third world nations. Their rights in almost every field are being compromised and they are being physically and psychologically exploited.
A good number of children work as farm laborers and in factories where they are often exposed to a harmful toxic environment. Children are also hired as domestic help or are employed in small roadside hotels and eateries. Such children are devoid of essential health, education, social growth opportunities and often spend their whole life in subjugation and poverty.
There are still millions of hungry children across the globe, despite their decline in the past years. According to a report, globally around, half of the children under the age of five suffer from a kind of hidden hunger defined as the deficiency of essential nutrients. The following three forms of malnutrition are common among the children – undernutrition, hidden hunger, and overweight. Moreover, not much progress has been done by even a single country in the past 20 years to tackle this malnutrition.
Therefore, Universal Children’s Day is a special and most important event to protect the rights of children and also to provide them adequate growth opportunities. It also plays a significant role in achieving the Sustainable Development SDG 2030.
Universal Children’s Day – Objectives
UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) states the following prime objectives of the Universal Children’s Day.
1) Protection and Safety of Adolescent
As the children grow older, stepping towards adolescents, they are exposed to entirely new forms of violence and exploitation. At this age, they become easy prey to gang violence, bullying, and other illegal and anti-social activities. Moreover, adolescents belonging to minority and poor families are more vulnerable to such types of violence. UNICEF is committed to protecting the rights of such children by organizing several programs.
2) Participation of Adolescents in Social Engagements
The estimated population of adolescents is 1.2 billion globally and is growing continuously. They are the ones directly affected by the government’s education and development policies even then they do not have any involvement in the decision making. UNICEF is committed to letting adolescents be a part of the social change they wish to see. Policies and laws encouraging participation of adolescents will be proposed and supported.
3) Child Skill Development
Developing the skills of a child will help him to chart out a better future for himself/herself. This, in turn, will benefit not only the families but also the communities. It is very essential to instill initial developmental skills in children and also the skills specific to the job. These will be extremely essential for a child’s productive and healthy life when he/she grows up.
4) Empowering Child Education
Education is a very important criterion for the overall development of a child. One of the objectives of the Universal Children’s Day is to strengthen the education system that our children are exposed to. It is a complex system that requires regular updates and continuous monitoring. UNICEF is working continuously to strengthen the education system.
5) Educating the Children in Caught in Emergencies
Education is the lifeline and the only hope for the children caught in emergency situations. Today, more countries are affected by wars and crisis than in the last thirty years. Children are the most vulnerable to such situations and sometimes the crisis spans for their lifetime. UNICEF is working tirelessly to provide uninterrupted education to displaced, refugees and migrant children.
Universal Children’s Day Themes
Universal Children’s Day Theme 2019 – is yet to come.
Universal Children’s Day Theme 2018 – “Children are taking over and turning the world blue”.
Universal Children’s Day Theme 2017 – “It’s#KidsTakeOver”.
Universal Children’s Day Theme 2016 – “Stop Violence against Children”.