60 years ago today, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959. 30 years ago today, it adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child or CRC in 1989. Every year now, the world celebrates 20 November as the World Children’s Day.
Celebrating today almost seems natural for an organization pledged itself to work on children’s issues like PUSKAPA, but we also don’t want it to be yet another tokenistic day of the year. From children, we heard lots of hopes and aspirations expressed. We also witnessed fears and doubts that appeared. We took all that and we decided it might be a good day for us, who claim to be working for children, to reflect on where we were, assess where we are now, and remind ourselves of where we should be.
We know where we want to be. We want to build a safe, just, and inclusive society so all children can thrive. But, how far along are we?
Ten, twenty, thirty years ago, child rights issues were overlooked or, at best, misunderstood. Problems concerning child protection and wellbeing, to us, were big and important, but somehow it was not instinctively high on the decision maker’s agenda and priority. It’s getting better now, but we promise to continue unpacking our own ignorance and misunderstandings. We promise to try and find more effective ways of making systems and services enable all children and the vulnerable to reach your development potential.
Ten, twenty, thirty years ago, there were lots of good intentions around children’s issues, but not so much of science. It’s getting better now, but we promise to continue generating quality evidence and sustaining knowledge on issues affecting your life. We promise not to stop at research but to also communicate and implement evidence-based solutions to help improve children and the vulnerable’s access to appropriate health, learning, and social care and are safe from harm.
Ten, twenty, thirty years ago, policies for children were reactive, not strategic. It’s getting better now, but we promise to continue to ensure that our thinking always leads to meaningful action. We promise to use evidence and ethics to promote sound policy responses, to always measure the results and take the lessons for improvement, and to use resources that we mobilize on your name with accountability.
Ten, twenty, thirty years ago, programs for children were made so children survive. It’s getting better now we promise to always argue that surviving and thriving are indivisible and interdependent. It is not enough to feed children; we are responsible that children live in a healthy environment. It is not enough to send children to school; we are responsible for children’s learning. It is not enough that children are learning; we are responsible to keep children away from violence. It is not enough to protect children; we are responsible for children enjoying civil liberties. Because context matters and is different for different children, we promise to work so that policies, systems, and services can detect, prevent, and support all children in adversity.
Today, we promise to always try harder and better. We owe it to all children, for whom our work is paved.
Happy World Children’s Day.