Universal Children's Day 2008

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November 20, 2008

Since 1954, the United Nations has promoted a Universal Children's Day to honor children and catalyze action to advance their rights and welfare. Children now constitute the majority of people living in poverty (UNICEF 2008). Denied the tools to develop and prosper, today's impoverished children will grow up to be tomorrow's impoverished adults.

Although vast improvements have been made in recent years, across the world children are still suffering the consequences of entrenched poverty. Over 200 million are engaged in child labor worldwide (ILO 2008). More than 70 million, 55 percent of whom are girls, are missing out on primary school (UN 2008). In Africa and South Asia, over 40 percent of girls are married before age eighteen (UNFPA 2005). Every year, 1.2 million children are trafficked for cheap labor and sexual exploitation (UNICEF 2006). Every day, over 26,000 children die before their fifth birthday, mostly from preventable causes (UNICEF SOWC 2008).

International agencies and organizations acknowledge that investing in children's welfare is a moral obligation and an economic imperative (UNICEF 2008). It is also increasingly recognized that empowering women is essential to improving children's health and wellbeing. Yet, lack of voice in decision-making and low status of women persists in many societies (UNICEF 2008).

The Hunger Project mobilizes grassroots women and men to be self reliant agents of their own development. Together, Hunger Project communities are educating their children; immunizing their babies; getting health care for pregnant women; and caring for the overall welfare of their children, both girls and boys.

The Hunger Project commemorates Universal Children's Day in 2008. At this time, we also welcome President-elect Obama's promise to review the United States' longstanding position as the only country, apart from Somalia, not to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Obama 2008). In his review, we urge him to make the choice to have the United States join the coalition of the world in committing to protect children, defend their human rights and, in the process, provide for a brighter future for both the children and the world.

Sources

ILO (International Labor Organization), "Child Labour", ILO, 2008, http://www.ilo.org/global/Themes/Child_Labour/lang--en/index.htm.

Obama, Barack, "Walden University Presidential Youth Debate", 2008, Walden University, http://debate.waldenu.edu/video/question-12/.

UN, "Background Note: Children's Rights", UN, 1995, http://www.un.org/rights/dpi1765e.htm.

UN, The Millennium Development Goals Report 2008, New York, 2008.

UNFPA, The State of the World Population 2005, New York, 2005.

UNICEF, Child Protection Information Sheet: Trafficking, New York, 2006.

UNICEF, "Poverty Reduction Starts with Children", UNICEF, 2008, http://www.unicef.org/why/why_poverty.html

UNICEF, ( SOWC) The State of the World's Children 2008, New York, 2008.