The International Day for Street Children is celebrated on April 12th since 2010. The International Day 2017 was particularly important because the publication of the UN General Comment on Children in street situations is expected to be published this year. The theme chosen for the seventh version of the International Day for Street Children was ‘Children’s rights is for every child’ which is, in fact, at the core of the CSC’s vision.
Why the International Day for Street Children is important?
The CSC vision is ‘A world where all children in street situations enjoy all their rights’, this implies that street-connected children should have the opportunity to fully enjoy their rights no matter their context, gender and social background. Unfortunately, many disadvantaged children in developing countries are victims of abuse, discrimination and violence. They face a harsh reality on a daily basis in which their rights are denied and violated. These factors push them onto the streets. Children think that on the streets they will find protection and safety away from an abusive family environment. I have worked for many years with street-connected children and during counselling sessions with them, they usually mentioned that the reasons why they decide to go to the streets are related to the lack of capacity of their parents to provide a caring and loving environment for them and to guarantee their right to education.
S.A.L.V.E International actively works to protect children’s rights, we also promote the participation of children in our work. Specifically, this year we have invited them to create a document reflecting their ideas on children’s rights protection and the mechanisms they think should be in place to help them to enjoy their rights. Through this initiative we aim at helping children to raise their voice and to be heard. We expect that their valuable ideas will be included in the UN General Comment on children in street situations, and also, that their voice will be heard at local level. To do so, children have distributed their document to Jinja community members during a band procession.
The International Day 2017 in Jinja, Uganda
I was offered the great opportunity to be a guest speaker in the seventh annual celebration. We also have a guest of honor, a government official from the Department of Children Affairs. During the speech, our guest of honor emphasized that the community, parents and other key stakeholders should actively work to protect children’s rights and encouraged children to report to the Department of Children Affairs any abuse and violation against their rights. Additionally, it was reiterated that the government is engaged to offer fully support and protection to vulnerable children and to prosecute people responsible for abuses against children’s rights.
To commemorate this day we also organised a variety of activities for the children, such as an eating and dance contest and drama sketches focused on children’s rights. Children also participated in Taekwondo lessons, to learn how to use a sport to protect themselves when facing a dangerous situation. The last activity of the day was the performance of a song written by the children about resilience.
Overall, this celebration offered and invaluable opportunity to empower children and raise awareness on children’s rights protection.