World Children’s Day, held each year on 20 November, commemorates two major milestones in protecting, ensuring and advancing the rights of children — the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1959 by the UN General Assembly; and, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989.
World Children’s Day is UNICEF’s (United Nations Children’s Fund) annual day of action for children, by children. The day promotes international togetherness and awareness among the children of the whole world and thus create awareness about child welfare globally. This year, on World Children’s Day, UNICEF and its partners are calling for increased awareness and raising funds for the most pressing issues facing children worldwide.
World Children’s Day provides each of us with an opportunity to defend, promote and celebrate children’s rights. Every member of society, including youth and children themselves can play an important role in making World Children’s Day relevant for their societies, communities and nations.
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a child rights crisis. The costs of the pandemic for children are immediate and, if unaddressed, may last a lifetime.
Regardless of where we live, this epidemic affects all of us, and children in particular. As the world deals with the economic fallout from this pandemic and its impact on government, household and private sector budgets, the risks to children are increasing.
At the start of November, 11 percent of the 25.7 million cases of COVID-19 infection were among children and adolescents under the age of 20. Among these cases, more infections occurred in adolescents aged 10-19 compared to children 0-9, and among males compared to females (as is the case at older ages).
Adding to the effects of disruption of essential services such as healthcare, young people are cut off from peer support and some of the biggest moments of their lives because of school closures, cancellation of events or postponement of exams.
At its peak, school closures due to COVID-19 affected nearly 90% of students around the world – including 743 million girls. More than 111 million of them are in the least developed countries.
Speaking on the impact the ongoing crisis was having on children, the UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, said: “Post-pandemic rebuilding must meet the magnitude of this moment by overcoming our differences, and working across generations, to rebuild the world in which we want our children to grow up. World Children’s Day must be a day to reimagine a better future for every child.
For his part, the Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Resident Coordinator to the State of Kuwait, Dr. Tariq Al-Sheikh, said: “I wish all children in Kuwait a Happy World Children’s Day. The United Nations in Kuwait takes this opportunity to renew our commitment to work with our partners from the government, civil society and other sectors to buttress past achievements, to protect children from the effects of the epidemic, and to rebuild better. “
On this World Children’s Day, UNICEF and partners are calling on governments to adopt a six-point plan to protect children:
- Ensure all children learn, including by closing the digital divide.
- Guarantee access to health and nutrition services, and make vaccines affordable and available to every child.
- Support and protect the mental health of children and young people and bring an end to abuse, gender-based violence, and neglect in childhood.
- Increase access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene and address environmental degradation and climate change.
- Reverse the rise in child poverty and ensure an inclusive recovery for all.
- Redouble efforts to protect and support children and their families living through conflict, disaster and displacement.