It is said that the measure of a nation’s greatness is determined by how it treats its weakest members. Children are the most vulnerable in any society. They must be raised with love and nurturing after their basic needs for food, water, shelter, and hygiene are provided. Each child has the right to reach his/her full potential and become a healthy, productive citizen. Therefore, raising emotionally, mentally and physically fit children is our duty to them and also to society at large since children are our future and will give back to society and contribute to its progress.
To increase awareness to children’s rights and development, many nations have designated special days as “Children’s Day” across the globe. Spain celebrates this day on May 2, Japan celebrates on May 5, India celebrates on November 14, and so on. However, Children’s Day was first officially declared a national holiday by the Republic of Turkey in 1929. The founder, reformer and first President of the Turkish Republic, Kemal Atatürk, had presented April 23rd as a gift to all the world’s children. Since then on every 23 of April, “Children’s Day’ is festively celebrated in Turkey. In 1959, inspired by this holiday in Turkey, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) declared November 20 as the “International Children’s Day” to ensure a special day is reserved in all nations to promote the welfare of the world’s children.
Although, international laws such as Declaration of the Rights of the Child and Convention on the Rights of the Child and Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations to protect and improve the well-being of the children have made great improvement in the lives of the children, there are still dire conditions children face.
One billion children worldwide are living in poverty. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die every day due to poverty. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that malnutrition accounts for 54 percent of child mortality worldwide. The main causes are unsafe water, inadequate sanitation or insufficient hygiene, factors related to poverty.
One in four young girls under the age of 18 is married which amounts to 650 million child brides globally.1 Forcing an underage girl into marriage is against human rights and hinders a girl’s development by resulting in early pregnancy interrupting her schooling and may subject her to domestic violence.
Children also face violence in the form of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, neglect or deprivation. Three out of four children endure violent discipline from their caregiver.2
Also, every 7 minutes a child is killed in the world. Two out of three deaths result from homicide and the rest from conflicts according to a study performed in 2015.3
Protecting the children from sufferings inflicted from poverty (hunger, malnutrition, disease), child marriage, violence and many more is an ongoing struggle. On International Children’s Day, we must demand governments to implement and force policies and laws to improve welfare and protection of the children.
1, 2, 3 UNICEF Data – https://data.unicef.org
Written by Tijen Baydur