Children from all over the globe meet online.
Text: Dana Buzducea, Leader Advocacy and External Engagement, World Vision International
We live in a global village. What happens to a child in Asia has consequences not only for her village, country or continent, but for all of us. So what we do to maximise the God-given potential of every child is a wise investment in the world’s sustainable future.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted on November 20 1989, was an act of justice and courage that changed the way global leaders and politicians viewed and talked about children. Yet achieving its ambition proved far more complex than we hoped for. In so many places children’s rights are completely disregarded and we continue to see grave violations all over the world.
As advocates, we spend our days reminding the leaders of their promises to children. We partner with child and adult leaders to collect evidence of both progress and gaps and we point to solutions for the next steps in realising the dream of a world where children can live lives free from fear and violence, where their potential can be achieved. Last year alone, together we contributed to more than 360 policy changes, which addressed the root causes of vulnerability of more than 414 million children.
Dola from Bangladesh speaking at a United Nations panel in Geneva.
For example, in Myanmar, where we contributed to the government enacting a new Child Rights Law, setting the minimum age for marriage as 18. In Bangladesh, our work with children’s forums and lobbying national government contributed to the implementation of a previously ignored law enforcing a minimum age for marriage. Dola from Bangladesh, 15, spoke to leaders at the UN, to talk about the work of her Child Forum in Bangladesh, which stopped over 600 child marriages in two years. Across the world, we have more than 680 programmes using our Citizen Voice and Action approach, which equips communities to hold their own governments accountable for the promises they make.
Beyond our programmes, we want to change the attitudes and behaviours that shape children’s lives. It breaks our hearts that more than one billion children around the world experience some form of violence every year so three years ago, we launched our global campaign It takes a world to end violence against children. To date, through 90 World Vision offices, hundreds of thousands of people have brought changes that have benefitted the lives of 128 million children. This is in addition to our work to change understanding and attitudes in communities, so that everyone understands the importance of ending violence.
At the heart of all of this work is the involvement of children and young people themselves. Whenever we meet children, we are so impressed by their thoughts and ideas, the powerful way they talk about the issues that impact their lives, their fears, but especially the solutions they propose. When empowered, children are real heroes.
We amplify their voices, carrying them from local communities through to global leaders, advocating for their needs to those who have the power. More than 51,000 people from 125 countries signed a petition to ensure children were protected in all responses to COVID-19. Together with a number of children, World Vision International President and CEO Andrew Morley handed in to the United Nations General Assembly in September this year. In addition to advocating for children’s rights at the UN in New York and Geneva, World Vision works around the year at the European Union in Brussels, and at the African Union, and consulting regularly with global bodies such as the World Health Organisation and the Human Rights Council.
Now is not the time to turn away or take our foot off the pedal of progress; we must double our efforts to ensure it is not the most vulnerable children who bear the brunt of this crisis. Despite the long-term nature of our work, or perhaps because of it, we feel urgency for the millions of children we are allowing to live in limbo. If we don’t move forward, we will fall backwards and we cannot let this happen – too many children’s lives, childhoods and futures are at stake.