Agnes from SOS Children
GLOBAL – November 18 2021

World Children’s Day: Children speak out for their rights

On World Children’s Day, we celebrate children’s rights and call on governments around the globe to renew their commitment to children.

On November 20, we celebrate World Children’s Day: the anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which declares that all children have the right to be protected and have everything they need to thrive. 

SOS Children’s Villages encourages every child to have a voice. Watch Agnes, 14, from SOS Children’s Villages in Benin discuss the importance of advocating for children in her own words: 

In 2018, Agnes and Haneen (now 17, from SOS Children’s Villages in Palestine) represented SOS Children’s Villages by speaking out as human rights defenders at the United Nations Day of General Discussion in Geneva, Switzerland.  

Agnes and Haneen have both taken action for children’s rights in their own countries and communities.

The UN Day of General Discussion, organized by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, was on the topic “Protecting and empowering children as human rights defenders." The event brought together experts and policymakers in the field of human rights, as well as over 60 children and young people, to empower children to share their stories and provide recommendations on how to promote and protect child rights.

Agnes was elected by the other children in her SOS Children’s Village to represent them at a program level, ensuring their perspectives are included in planning and discussions. Since then, she has advocated for child rights nationally by speaking to government representatives on issues such as child abuse and sexual harassment in schools.

“I feel bad. I have all my rights but other children do not have the same situation. While I am well-treated and welcome in a good family, others are suffering. This gave me motivation to aspire that all children receive the same treatment. We all should be able to defend ourselves,” said Agnes.

Haneen is a member of the Palestinian Children’s Council. She has campaigned for children without official documentation and has produced a brochure for children to raise awareness of child rights and protection. Most recently, the Council where Haneen participates has been invited by the Ministry of Education to advise on the educational environment in schools.

“The fact that we are here is proof of the love we received. I want to thank my SOS youth house and caregiver for the love they gave me,” said Haneen.

SOS Children’s Villages believes that promoting and protecting child rights are a fundamental part of quality care. Every child has the right to quality care and continuous protection in a nurturing, empowering and positive care environment, whether they live with their family of origin or are in alternative care.

Our commitment to quality care includes empowering children and young people to stand up as defenders of human rights. As part of our advocacy work, we encourage young people to have a voice and become active participants in decision-making processes. 

“By listening to and empowering young people, we can support them to shape their own lives and communities. Events such as these mean that key decision makers can engage with young people and take their recommendations,” explains Alan Kikuchi-White, Representative to the United Nations in Geneva at SOS Children’s Villages International. “The key message that resonated throughout the day was ‘Do nothing about us without us,' which shows the importance of genuine and effective participation.”

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