20 November marks the anniversary of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which highlights children as rights holders. This Day is an opportunity for us to call on governments to renew their commitment to children’s rights and to recall that every child, especially those deprived of parental care or at risk of losing it, must have a voice. Indeed, today’s children are tomorrow’s adults and it is essential that they grow up in a healthy environment where they feel listened to and supported in order to become fulfilled adults. It is with this in mind that the UN Resolution on the Rights of the Child was adopted in 2019, which focuses on children without parental care, and it is also with this objective that SOS Children’s Villages fights to support families and prevent children from being separated from their parents.
While the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is celebrated every year, it should not be forgotten that for many children, these rights have not been made a reality. Yet the implementation of this Convention is an imperative to effectively prevent separation and allow these children to grow and flourish. Indeed, to make the world a better place for children, it is important to involve them in the decisions that affect them, which is what the 2022 Universal Children’s Day theme refers to: inclusion, for every child.
This can be through advocacy, with children and young people carrying out activities to improve representations, policies and practices that affect children’s rights and well-being. This is the case in community programmes in Benin, where participation bodies have been set up in which children elect their own representatives from among their peers in SOS Children’s Villages programmes, with a view to fostering their engagement. At all kinds of events, such as meetings, conferences, or even on the street or in the media, children speak out on issues that concern them in order to defend their rights. They realise that they are capable of speaking in public and, above all, that they are capable of defending their rights themselves.
Crédits photo : © Ford Leland © Magdalena Sikorska