It’s Children’s Day on 20 November 2022. It was on this day 33 years ago that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the world’s most widely ratified international human rights treaty.
Children’s Day is a moment to take stock of what needs to be done to move the agenda forward on these rights and celebrate the progress made to do so – especially and increasingly by children themselves, whose voices are at the heart of these efforts.
The UN’s recent Be Seen Be Heard research to capture society’s and children’s view on participation in public life, and the barriers preventing them from doing so, has found that most people (70 percent of those in the study) from across countries and ages, feel that it is very important for political leadership to listen to children, and they need to have more say. People across all age groups agreed that more opportunities for younger people to participate in policy development and change would make systems better and more equipped for the future.
End Violence is celebrating action and amplifying calls to action this Children’s Day – not just for children, but with them. Here are some of the calls to action of inspiring child and youth leaders making change around the world and the action taking place to support them:
Speaking out to end violence
Children are sharing their powerful experiences and calls to action to demand an end to violence. End Violence is making their voices heard alongside global leadership of the highest level, be it alongside heads of state and international leaders at the Together to #ENDviolence Leaders’ Event or with children from all regions of the world at the Global Forum for Children and Youth.
These child and Youth leaders are driving change to eliminate all forms of violence, from child marriages and sexual violence to any form of exploitation and abuse. The calls to action of children around the world are laid out in End Violence’s Children’s Manifesto. Delivered by Brazilian youth activist Thiago, the manifesto demands support and commitments to address violence in all settings and the protection of children’s rights.
Advocating for mental health
Giang, a young advocate from Viet Nam is speaking about their experience of mental health – sharing her own struggles to demand action from world leaders. Speaking on the margins of key global moments such as the Transforming Education Summit, they are calling on leaders to address violence in and around schools, verbal abuse and isolation from peers, and lack of adequate support. They are calling for increased support for mental health in the school system and an end to stigma and discrimination.
“I want to see schools where mental health issues are looked at just as any other physical challenges. And there will no longer be barriers, stigma or discrimination to stop us," says Giang.
Calling for Safe education and learning environments
Giang has joined forces with three other young people from around the world to share powerful testimonies of violence in and through schools. They have co-produced the Safe to Learn youth-led film, Don't Fail Us to share their experiences of violence – whether bullying, discrimination, gender-based violence, or lack of a safe school environment. They are demanding action from world leaders to end violence and transform education systems.
Their demands are encompassed in the Safe to Learn Call to Action, which highlights five key areas where progress needs to be accelerated to end violence in and through schools, capturing many of the different issues that the young people want to change. 16 countries have so far endorsed this call.
Taking charge in the fight against climate change
The climate crisis is a child rights crisis, one that children are eagerly taking charge to fight against, covering and leading advocacy whether through petitions or protests.
Climate change not only stands to alter the lives of children in the future, but is already affecting them. There is mounting evidence that climate impacts are exacerbating the risk of the many forms of violence across many different contexts, threatening to undo progress. Bess Herbert, Senior Advocacy Specialist at the End Violence Partnership has taken a deep-dive into how the climate crisis is driving violence against children and what we can do to simultaneously prevent and respond to the dual threats of these key issues – through policy, programmes and investment.
Calling to protect those in humanitarian settings
Horuna, President of the Parliamentary Group for the Protection of Children’s Rights in Mali is calling for authorities to put in place more international conventions and standards aimed at protecting children from the harming consequences of armed conflict.
“The authorities responsible for the protection and promotion of children’s rights put in place, and above all, apply more international conventions and standards aimed at protecting children from armed conflict and its harming consequences," he says.
End Violence is galvanising policy action to ensure the safety of children in fragile settings. The Together to #ENDviolce policy proposal to protect children from violence in humanitarian settings calls on governments and donors to prioritise child protection in all humanitarian response plans and to ensure funding to meet the escalating child protection needs.
Working to make the online world safer
Online sexual exploitation and abuse is a grave, growing concern, with reported instances increasing 35% last year and child sexual abuse material reported online every two minutes. Children, whose lives are increasingly taking place online, are fighting for safety and rights in online spaces.
Gitanjali Rao, Innovator and TIME Kid of the Year is a young End Violence Advocate demanding for young people to be part of the solutions to issues they face. She is working to make online spaces safe and secure for children and has developed an app that works to combat cyberbullying.
“We need solutions for teenagers, by teenagers," says Gitanjali.
End Violence’s Safe Online initiative has been leading global efforts to make the internet safe for children by investing to strengthen systems, generate evidence and design technology solutions, with $68 million invested and impact in over 75 countries. Safe Online is also coordinating joint efforts to put child online safety at the heart of key policy debates, such as the latest campaign to support the reformative EU legislation.
Demanding an end to corporal punishment
Corporal punishment – or violent forms of decipline – is the most common form of violence against children and 86% of the world’s children are not legally protected from the practice. And children are speaking up against it.
Children and Youth Advocates representing Cambodia, Laos Philippines and Thailand are convening on 19 November, a day ahead of Children’s day, to share and state their views on why and how corporal punishment should be prohibited and how can they be part of promoting the principles of positive discipline. These young people will be part of the Love Does Not Hurt Project’s regional webinar "Stand-Up for Love: A Youth-Led Dialogue to end Corporal Punishment in South East Asia".
End Violence’s End Corporal Punishment initiative is working realise these calls to action of children and to catalyse progress towards the universal elimination of corporal punishment of children. It advocates for, monitors, and provides technical support to achieve and implement law reform to prohibit violent forms of punishment across the world.
Through its work with these inspiring children, End Violence is placing their voices at the heart of the Partnership and the end violence movement. Read our Together to #ENDviolence policy proposals to enable change and meet the Champions and Advocates making it happen.