SHAFAQNA – Children have and always will be our future and it means that more time and energy should be put into the beginning stages of each child’s life. Unfortunately this is not always the case in many nations around the world – including our own!
Currently, children worldwide are facing terrible problems such as lack of access education, poverty, refugees life, child neglect, child prostitution, child labor, child trafficking and slavery, military use of children, internet child pornography and so on.
International Children’s Day intends to remedy that. It is celebrated in many countries on June 1 and reminds society that children have inalienable rights – all children have a right to grow up happy, cared for and safe.
International Children’s Day came about from a desire to see promote the rights of children — their well-being, safety and so on, in June 1st, 1925 at the World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland.
“The one thing all children have in common is their rights. Every child has the right to survive and thrive, to be educated, to be free from violence and abuse, to participate and to be heard, ” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Despite global progress, there are still 58 million children out of school globally and around 100 million children who do not complete primary education reported EFA Global Monitoring Report 2015.
Inequality in education has increased, with the poorest and most disadvantaged shouldering the heaviest burden. The world’s poorest children are four times more likely to not go to school compared to the world’s richest children, and five times more likely to not complete primary school.
Unfortunately, we still can see inequality in education in many countries, especially in the East. Women are still much more likely than men to be poor and illiterate. Gender equality is a precondition for advancing development and reducing poverty: empowered women contribute to the health and productivity of whole families and communities, and they improve future generations’ prospects.
The first Azerbaijani oil tycoon and great philanthropist, Haji Zeynalabdin Tagiyev once said that if you give education to a boy then you will get one educated person but if you give education to a girl then you will get one educated family. Tagiyev believed that an uneducated woman would also be an uneducated mother.
For more than 30 years, UNFPA has advocated for women and girls, promoting legal and policy reforms and gender-sensitive data collection, supporting initiatives that improve women’s health and expand their choices in life.
Location also contributes to a child’s lack of access and attendance to education. In certain areas of the world it is more difficult for children to get to school. For example, in high-altitude areas in India, severe weather conditions for more than 7 months of the year make school attendance erratic and force children to remain at home.
According to UNICEF, 25,000 children die each day due to poverty. Some children die because they are malnourished – underweight or stunted, others die from chronic diseases brought upon by poverty: especially in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Almost two in three people in those regions lack access to clean water and as a result millions of children die of diarrhea every year. 1.4 million die each year from lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. 2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized. Millions of parents in developing countries must cope with the fact that their children may not survive the first critical years of life – diseases remain the main threat to their children’s lives. Such threats are preventable.
The world’s most vulnerable children, including those separated from their families because of war, natural disasters, extreme poverty and exploitation, should rank high on our list of priorities. Of the 50 million refugees and displaced people in the world, approximately half are children.
Two United Nations agencies, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), are responsible for safeguarding the rights and well-being of the world’s refugees.
Ban Ki-moon said “Refugees have been deprived of their homes, but they must not be deprived of their futures.”
Children’s health is also on the focus issues that affect their future life. Every year, almost 7 million children die before their fifth birthday, mostly from preventable causes according to Save the Children Organization. Millions of children become ill or die because they lack access to health services or adequate diet.
There are many forms of child labor worldwide, depriving kids from their childhood, their health and education. An estimated 211 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are working around the world, according to the International Labor Organization. Of these, 120 million children are working full time to help support their impoverished families. But many children are stuck in unacceptable working conditions – a serious violation of their rights. Children are engaged in agricultural labor, mining, manufacturing, domestic service, types of construction, scavenging and begging on the streets.
There are as many as 1.8 million children exploited in prostitution or pornography worldwide and human trafficking alone. Nearly 80 percent of all trafficking worldwide is for sexual exploitation, with over 20 percent of the victims being children.
Incidence of children in prostitution is steadily increasing and children under 18 make up between 5 percent and 20 percent of prostitution depending on geographical areas. In the Philippines, UNICEF estimated that there are 60,000 child prostitutes and many of the 200 brothels in the notorious Angeles City offer children for sex. In India as many as 200,000 Nepali girls, many under the age of 14, have been sold into red-light districts. However, social tolerance to the sexual exploitation of children is increasing. There
are millions of child sexual abuse images on the Internet, and that number is growing.
Trafficking is the third largest illegal trade after drug trafficking and arms trade. Child trafficking is a crime involving the movement of children for the purpose of their exploitation. This crime happens in every country in the world and affects children from all walks of life. Children are trafficked for child sexual exploitation, benefit fraud, forced marriage, domestic servitude such as cleaning, childcare, cooking, forced labor in factories or agriculture, criminal activity such as begging, transporting drugs, working on cannabis farms etc. According to UNICEF, over 200,000 children work as slaves in West and Central Africa. Boys are usually sold to work on cotton and cocoa plantations while girls are used as domestic servants and prostitutes.
Child neglect is also one of the main problem in contemporary life. While the consequences of child neglect can be devastating, it leaves no visible marks. Emotional neglect, in its most serious form, can result in the “non-organic failure to thrive syndrome,” a condition in which a child fails to develop physically or even to survive.
Neglect manifests when a parent or carer does not provide the child with adequate emotional support and does not meet the child’s most basic needs: food, shelter, safety, guidance. We should strive to provide our children with a healthy lifestyle, essential medicines and a secure environment to ensure their development.