Although the Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely and rapidly ratified treaty in history, it is going to take more than just governments and traditional civil society to see that its promises are met. Chelsea Moore reports.
Moore: Mayra Avellar Neves may be younger than the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which turned 20 this Friday, but she has dedicated her childhood to fighting for the rights of other children. In fact, youth from all around the globe are rising to the occasion, calling on governments and citizens to uphold their promise to the children. Mayra was awarded the 2008 Child Peace Prize for her work against the violence in the favela where she lives in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Mayra: Can you imagine how is it to live your life with a war going on in front of your door? Is it fair that we have to wake up under the sound of bullets? Children have the right to protection. Some weeks ago in a Favela called Mandela, a 15 year old boy was asked by his mother to go out to empty the trash. When in the street he was shot in his head by the police, he died. And do you know why it happened? He was mistaken to be a criminal because he was black. I stand for the beggars. I stand for the eight-year-old boy who died at 8 am when he was going to the bakery. I stand for those who died without even knowing why. I stand for my people. That’s why I’m here for.
Moore: 16-year-old Syed Aown Shahzad, a young activist for children’s rights in his home country of Pakistan, tells of his experience working with fellow children in displaced persons camps after the devastating earthquake that struck his nation.
Syed: I had a chance to speak with a boy from these camps when he was rescued by the Pakistan Society for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled. He told me how much he wished to study. I asked, why? And he replied with a smile and said, “because education is like a ray of light and I want that light.” Millions of children like him hope for the same light. I urge you to listen to their call, but also respond to them and take concrete actions.
Moore: Millicent Atieno Orondo, lives with her father in an informal settlement, Kangemi, in the outskirts of Nairobi. At age 15 Orondo was selected to deliver the closing statement, with recommendations, at the General Assembly’s “World Fit for Children” in 2007. Today she remains committed to children’s rights, especially education.
Millicent: What are the governments doing to ensure that children are protected and their rights are fulfilled? It is quite impressive that most countries have free primary education but still in many countries, for example mine, children are too many in a class, there are few teachers, few books, and other important facilities are still a problem. I am terribly hurt as a child to know that over 100 million children are not in schools. Have we forgotten what Mr. Mandela said? That education is most important weapon in the world today.
Moore: Millicent called on governments and individuals to help empower children so they may claim their rights.
Millicent: I urge all of you to support children’s collective action, so that we can join hands and change the world of children today and tomorrow. As we say two years ago, what matters to us most, is results. Children don’t just want resolutions, children want solutions. We don’t want to hear any good intentions, we want to see actions. Remember you owe us our rights so.
This is a Deconstruction Production, I’m Chelsea Moore.