Wonder why this blog post is dressed in blue? Today is Universal Children’s Day 2018. In honor of kids around the globe and in solidarity with other celebrants, we decided to #GoBlue.
Many will wear blue. Some global landmarks will be bathed in blue. Others will share wishes of blueness on social media. Google will add a special doodle in its search engines around the world. (1) What does it all mean? In choosing this theme for 2018, its creators are trying to raise awareness to the plight of children in need - of food, of education, of protection, of love.
Children everywhere have a right to play. Photo Credit: Robert Collins
While children in many countries continue to enjoy a high standard of living, others struggle just to survive. It was on this date in 1989 that the United Nations adopted the Conventions on the Rights of the Child. Among these human rights are the right to life, health, education, to play, family life, protection from violence and discrimination and the right to have their views heard. (1)
Who is most at risk for having these rights violated? In considering that, let’s take a look at one corner of the world - Tanzania.
The following statistics illustrate the need for stronger protection of children:
29% of children are used for child labor (2)
57 out of 1,000 children die before their fifth birthday (2)
In 2012, 48% of the poorest children were stunted due to malnutrition (2)
In 2011, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys experienced sexual violence (5)
Only 66% of school-age children in Tanzania attend school, and girls are particularly in danger of not receiving their full education through secondary school. In 2017, the government began mandating pregnancy tests at school, forcing pregnant adolescents to drop out. Each year, approximately 8,000 girls are ejected from school. (3)
On their website, Unicef states: “These children - and others who are orphans, living on the street or in extreme poverty - are considered to be most vulnerable to violations of their rights and in need of special protection.” (5)
Worldwide approximately 263 million children don’t attend school. (1) In addition to sexual violence and a lack of protection for girls, another issue has taken center stage - the plight of refugees.
Unicef calls the refugee crisis impacting 50 million children worldwide “the worst since World War II.” (4) These are children fleeing armed conflicts in places including Syria, Yemen, South Sudan and Iraq. It also includes children escaping extreme poverty and gang violence from regions such as Central America. The children lose their security, saying good-bye to their homes and embarking on dangerous journeys. Many remain out of school for long lengths of time. Some are separated from their parents and families.
Many refugees face walls, not welcome, after a long journey. Photo credit: Cole Patrick
The blue campaign for awareness is a first step. Next, more action is needed both in home countries and refugee camps. Every child has the right to learn, play, grow and love. In short, every child has the right to be a child.