“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” - Frederick Douglass
Universal Children’s Day is celebrated annually on November 20th. It was first proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1954, and was established to encourage all countries to institute a day, to firstly promote friendship and understanding among children all over the world, and secondly to initiate policy, strategy and action to benefit and promote the welfare of the world’s children. It is also an occasion to rejoice in the beauty and innocence of childhood.
Universal Children’s Day is immediately preceded by International Men’s Day on November 19 creating a 48 hour celebration of men and children respectively during which time the positive roles men play in children’s lives are recognised. It is a 48-hour period in which father and their children can celebrate the special bond that unites them. Events and activities focus on language and literacy, health, sport and recreation, the arts and science, as well as children’s cultural, social and emotional needs.
In 2000 world leaders outlined the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015. Although the Goals are for all humankind, they are primarily about children. UNICEF notes that six of the eight goals relate directly to children and meeting the last two will also make critical improvements in their lives.
In 2012, the Secretary-General of the UN launched a new initiative “Education First”. The Initiative aims to raise the political profile of education, strengthen the global movement to achieve quality education and generate additional and sufficient funding through sustained advocacy efforts. Achieving gains in education will have an impact on all the Millennium Development Goals, from lower child and maternal mortality, to better health, higher income and more environmentally-friendly societies.