As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, 100 Million launches its new report, Every Child, Every Community, to deliver the rights of the most excluded and marginalised children.
Thirty years ago, the rights of the child were outlined in detail in the United Nations' 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The CRC is a treaty that recognises specific rights of the child to:
protection (from abuse, exploitation, harmful substances and more);
provision (of education, health care and an adequate standard of living, for example);
participation (such as listening to children’s views and respecting their evolving capacities).
Although children's rights received special protection in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and several other international treaties protecting children were agreed before 1989, the CRC remains a landmark treaty, and its adoption by almost every country in the world committed governments to delivering the rights contained within it. From the right to education to the right to play and relax, from the right to be safe from violence to the right to dignity and respect, the Convention on the Rights of the Child is intended to protect childhoods, and empower children to claim and use their rights.
Today, in almost every country, there are many children who already enjoy their rights, proving that it is possible to ensure freedom, safety, and education. But for the most excluded and marginalised children there remains a very long way to go before the words on any piece of paper become a reality.
At current rates, there is no way child labour will be eradicated by 2025 - the deadline set by governments as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Instead, projections suggest there will still be 121 million children in child labour.
One quarter of adolescents is expected to be out of school by 2030, with the number of out-of-school children projected to be 225 million - similar to the numbers today.
142 million children continue to live in areas with high intensity conflicts, putting them at heightened risk of severe abuses, including sexual violence and child soldier recruitment.
WHO ARE THE WORLD'S MOST MARGINALISED CHILDREN?
The numbers above do not necessarily 'add up' to create a group of over half a billion children. The child who is forced to flee danger is usually the same child who is out of school. The child who is out of school is often the same child who is forced to work. And the child who is forced to work is almost certainly the same child who is living in an area where the threat of climate disaster looms large. The world's most marginalised children are those who are enduring multiple disadvantages and deprivation.
Even when protections like the CRC exist, and even when governments create policies to deliver these protections, they are not taking into account what they must do to ensure the children most in need are supported. As a youth activist from the informal 'slum' settlement of Mathare, Nairobi stated simply to her member of parliament during Kenya's 100 Million campaign rally, governments can't say they are providing vaccinations for every child if they start with the wealthy children of Nairobi and run out of supplies by the time they get to Mathare - where children have no other access to those protections.
It is unbelievable that 70 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 30 years after the Convention on the Rights of the Child, there are still hundreds of millions of children and young people who will never go to school, who believe they were born to work, and who will spend every day of their childhood with the threat of conflict hanging over their heads. But it is unacceptable that we will be in the same situation in another 10 years' time - especially when we know the policies that work to end this.
EVERY CHILD, EVERY COMMUNITY
The 100 Million campaign's new report, Every Child, Every Community: youth activism to end child exclusion and marginalisation, identifies key actions needed to realise a world where every child is included, and enjoys their rights to freedom, safety, and education. It identifies who the world's most marginalised children are, and uses case studies to show that youth and community mobilisation can effect lasting change. Critically, it includes the 100 Million campaign's Every Child Community Charter. Written with the input of representative youth organisations and activists from all over the world, the Charter sets out 12 guarantees or principles through which a community can ensure it is delivering the rights of children to be free, safe, and educated. A community which commits to delivering the Charter becomes an Every Child Community - a community where every child can enjoy their childhood.
For any child who is marginalised and exploited, the first step to justice is community action – it is local authorities which can enforce laws to protect children, which must act if children are suffering violence, and local education officials who should secure a place in the local school for every child. By empowering and equipping young people to mobilise on these issues, the 100 Million campaign is supporting young people to end violence against children, eradicate child labour, and ensure education for every child in their local communities.
By effecting change community by community, this network of empowered activists will prove to decision-makers and governments the world over that change is possible – leaving them no excuses not to deliver the rights of every child.