Today is World’s Children’s Day and this day also marks 32 years of the UNCRC. On 20 November, 1989, world leaders made a historic commitment to the world’s children by adopting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) – an international agreement on childhood. It has become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history and has helped transform children’s lives around the world.
(In India that year, Butterflies submitted the First India Alternate Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The report was drafted by a working group of academicians from the field of sociology and economics, practitioners, and legal experts. Read the complete report here- https://butterfliesngo.org/resource/the-alternate-report-for-uncrc/ )
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how inequality affects the rights of every child. From climate change, education and mental health, to ending racism and discrimination, children and young people are raising their voices on the issues that matter to their generation and calling for adults to create a better future. This World Children’s Day, is more important than ever that the world listens to their ideas and demands. One of our young person Sagar, got the opportunity this year (2021) to share his concerns and recommendations on children’s rights to alternative care to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on the Day of General Discussion.
A week ago 52 children came together to discuss and write their lived experiences of the pandemic. The children wrote narratives, poems and pictorially expressed their feelings and experiences. Children wrote of their fears which spoke of what they went through and continue to experience, …….to quote a few of them-
“I am afraid that if lockdown happens again due to an increase in COVID cases, my father will lose his job, then my studies will also stop.”
“It was fearful and disturbing to see parents anxious about their jobs and not having money to pay rents and buy essentials.”
“I was really worried that I may fail in my exams because I was not able to follow anything in online classes”
“I missed school, my friends, was always anxious, worried that my parents or anyone in the family do not fall sick with Coronavirus. It was not a happy time”
Children also wrote of their hopes for the future….
“Now that schools are reopening; I hope to go back to school. I want to pass my high school with good marks. I want to become a chartered accountant, so that I can get my family out of this very troublesome situation.”
“I hope one day, I will become an Engineer, I want to take my father and mother to many places.”
“I hope after a month our country India will be completely free from Coronavirus.”
“I hope Corona virus ends soon….and everything becomes normal. I want to meet and spend time with my friends in school.”
Children further expressed that they would like to go back to school, would like their parents to get work so that they can look after their needs so that some of them would not have to give up schooling. In their words “we want to go out and play, have enough food to eat and not feel hungry. We want health care and a caring environment to enjoy life and not be worried”.
The children living in very challenging situations, are looking at a new dawn, and are positive that life will get better. We cannot afford to crush their spirits of positivity and resilience, the Civil Society Organisations and the government must keep their trust and ensure our children can once more breathe easy, play outside, go to school, get their health care, be emotionally well and enough of nutritious food to grow healthy and strong. Government must increase its budgets on education and health care, the two fundamental entitlements of children. We should act on our Constitutional promise of ensuring every child lives in a caring and protective family, community, school environment so that they enjoy their childhood and thrive. We owe this to our children.