SAfAIDS Statement on Universal Children’s Day

“Today, and throughout the year, we celebrate brave and inspiring children from across the globe who have made ground breaking contributions towards development of other children and the entire human race. Children are our greatest resource and humanity’s best hope for the future; decisions and investments that we make today will determine our children’s future, and ultimately the future of our humanity. Children will inherit the innovations, technology and milestones that we have developed in this generation, unfortunately they will also inherit all the negative outcomes and consequences of war, poverty, limited health care and access to education, child labour and all forms of abuse. As we celebrate this day, we acknowledge positive transformation and development in areas of civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children – while simultaneously we need to critically reflect on the gaps, and areas we have failed to ensure that every child has a right to dignity, basic human rights and security. We cannot claim sustainable development without tangible action and investment towards the holistic development of children. We owe every child a happy and safe childhood!”    Ms. Rouzeh Eghtessadi, SAfAIDS Executive Director

Each year globally, 20th November is celebrated as Universal Children’s Day. The Day reminds us to promote and celebrate children’s rights and promote togetherness and awareness amongst all children. The Day also marks the important anniversary of the United Nations adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959; and subsequently the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1989. Substantial global progress has been made in reducing child mortality and morbidity. These achievements could not have been without the commitments and efforts made by global leaders, governments, development partners, civil society and children themselves to develop, widely ratify and implement global strategies, declarations and conventions which are instrumental in transforming children’s lives, offering them opportunities to enjoy childhood.

As we commemorate this special Day, which also marks the 30th  anniversary of the CRC, we need to critically think about what we are going to do differently for children in our society. Although the world as a whole has been accelerating progress in reducing the under-5 mortality rate, disparities exist across regions and countries. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the highest under-5 mortality rate in the world, with 1 child in 13 dying before his or her fifth birthday, 15 times higher than in high income countries. This is coupled with alarming statistics of 262 million children and youth being out of school, 650 million girls and women married before their 18th birthday, while 1 in 4 children will live in areas with extremely limited water resources by 2040. These statistics highlight how children’s lives, health and wellbeing are still compromised and not guaranteed.

SAfAIDS joins child-focused like-minded stakeholders in commemorating the Day, and reaffirming commitment to continuously create, foster, strengthen and amplify sustainable health and developmental solutions promoting health and wellbeing for all children. Through programmes at national and regional level, SAfAIDS partners with governments, the UN and other partners towards prioritising development of children in all spheres.; in particular within the HIV and SRH responses - and championing their rights to gender equality, education and access to adequate sanitation.

“Around the world, children are showing us their strength and leadership advocating for a more sustainable world for all. Let’s build on advances and re-commit to putting children first. For every child, every right.”                                  UN Secretary-General António Guterres

 

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