2008 is the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the UN Children’s Convention on the Rights of the Child. This important instrument enshrines the rights of children to survive, develop, participate and be protected.
Among the rights set out in the Convention are the right to education, the right to healthcare and the right to freedom from exploitation at work.
It is a sad fact that in our world today there are millions and millions of children working each day instead of going to school. For every 6 children in the world under the age of 18, one of them is a child labourer.
We live in a world where more than 100 million children do not have access to education, where 2.5 million children under 15 are living with HIV, and where millions of workers, particularly children and young women, work long hours for low wages in dangerous conditions.
In Asia alone there are over 100 million children between 5 and 14 years working all day every day.
Child labourers are used in all sorts of jobs, from working as domestic servants, in agriculture, to making and carrying bricks, to mining and stitching carpets or footballs. In fact, it is said that everything we eat, wear, use and are sheltered by; somewhere along the way a child labourer is involved.
But we also live in a world where young people are eager to learn, where young people educate their peers and the wider public about issues of concern to them, and where young people take action to change the world.
Changing Your World: Toolkit for Young Campaigners (2005). YCare International
Children Changing their World: Understanding and Evaluating Children’s Participation in Development (2004). Plan International