Universal Children’s Day

Roundafire article about Universal Children's Day.

“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.” – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Today the world celebrates Universal’s Children’s Day (UCD) under the recommendation made by the UN General Assembly that all countries of the world adopt this day to promote children’s rights and uphold these rights. The recommendation was made in 14 December 1954 by Resolution 836(IX) but the day – 20 November – marks the official adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child by the Assembly in 1959. The day is not a public holiday but rather an observance on children’s rights and their social issues where countries can choose suitable dates to commemorate the day.

South Africa

In our country we do not have a special day dedicated to this observance but rather, we have an entire week dedicated to children called the Child Protection Week (CPW) which aims to raise awareness about children’s rights, protection and abuse. This week is commemorated between 31 May 01 – 07 June annually and is a campaign that began in 1997 and is led by the Minister of Social Development.

It’s important that we observe this week because of the following two reasons:

  1. Our children need to learn about their rights and learn about ways to enforce those rights as a means to protect themselves from harm.
  1. This could be a platform for our children to express themselves about their own struggles. Oftentimes we as adults wallow in our own little problems and forget that the kids are also members of our society and they too experience and feel the plight of oppression, abuse, discrimination, lack of education amongst many others. So if we allow them a platform to speak, young as they may be, we can tailor policies and decisions based on what they truly want and what they feel they deserve.

In my humble opinion, I think the CPW is not as widely publicised and given the media attention it deserves simply because children don’t know the right channels to follow and they are quite young to take such steps themselves. So then, it’s our responsibility as their caregivers to push for a greater recognition of this week amongst our peers, media and government so that every year, our children can look forward to celebrating this special week.





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