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An open letter to the world’s children

To children and young people everywhere,

On behalf of everyone at ChildFund, I want to send you our warmest wishes for World Children’s Day.

Today marks the 31st anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Children’s Convention). This is an international agreement which 196 countries around the globe have agreed to uphold.

The Children’s Convention was created in recognition that the experiences of childhood can last a lifetime. Because of your youth and vulnerability, world leaders agreed that you are entitled to special care and protection, whilst also acknowledging you have the right and ability to make your own choices.

With 54 rights in total, the Children’s Convention requires governments to do all in their power to ensure children survive and thrive, live in safe communities, have opportunities to learn and develop, and play an active role in society.

But perhaps most importantly, the Children’s Convention affirms that children should be valued as children.

We know that you can make important contributions to the world now, during your younger years, and that we, as adults, must listen and engage you on issues of importance to your lives and your futures.

This year has been a particularly difficult one for so many children and young people, with the COVID-19 pandemic having such unforeseen and far-reaching impacts on your lives.

Your education has been interrupted, with schools closing or moving online. It is difficult to undertake study independently at home, and even more so for those without digital connectivity. I know many of you are also missing the regular interaction with your friends and teachers.

In many homes, parents or caregivers have lost their jobs and income, and are worried about providing for their family. I understand how difficult it can be to live with ongoing uncertainty, and the stress that results.

The pandemic has highlighted ongoing inequality for children around the globe. It is clear that there is much to be done to ensure that every child has their rights respected and upheld.

But I also hope for the adults of this world that these challenging times caution us to stop and reflect. As the UN Secretary General António Guterres said earlier this year, the pandemic provides an important wake-up call.

He noted: “We need to build back better with more sustainable, inclusive, gender-equal societies and economies.”

We cannot commit to this enormous undertaking without your input; it is vital that children and young people play a major part of this important global conversation as we reimagine a better world.

As individuals and a generation who enrich our lives in so many ways, we hope that you can celebrate World Children’s Day in your home, village, community, or neighbourhood.

We wish you good health, safety, reconnection with friends, opportunity, and, if possible, fun in the months ahead. Thanks for making our world a better place.

Margaret Sheehan
CEO, ChildFund Australia

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