World Children’s Day or Universal Children’s Day is celebrated across the world every year on 20th November to promote the issues regarding children’s rights and welfare and to create awareness among everyone to make the world a better place for children.
This year the day will be observed under the theme ‘A Better Future for Every Child’.
Children across the world especially in developing countries like Bangladesh were the worst victims of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to a joint report of the International Labour Organization and the UN children's agency UNICEF, released in June this year, 160 million children or nearly one child in ten is involved in child labor globally, an increase of 8.4 million since 2016.
Their data showed that nearly half of these children or 79 million were involved in hazardous work, which was 6.5 million more than in 2016.
Talking to Bangladesh Post, Director of Save the Children’s Child Rights Governance and Child Protection Sector, Abdullah Al Mamun said that although over the past decade or two, perspective towards children have changed comparatively at the policy-making level in our country, there are still a lot left to be done as a country that signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1990.
He said, “Children account for 40 percent of the total population of our country. There is no separate ministry or department for them. The developmental works for the children are being conducted in a scattered manner at the government and non-governmental levels.”
He added that ensuring social security for the girl children has become the most important issue that needs to be addressed.
“Especially, during the pandemic child marriages surged alarmingly. Child labour has also increased during this time and unfortunately, there is no exact data on how many children are currently involved in child labour after 2013,” he said.
Ambika Roy, Child Rights Unit coordinator of the human rights organization Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), told Bangladesh Post that child marriage and child labour have increased amid the pandemic because of the economic hardships faced by the low-income people coupled with the closure of schools.
“The educational institutions of the country were shut for a long time during the pandemic. As a result, many students, especially in the marginal areas dropped out; many had to find ways to earn livelihoods, while many girl children were married off,” she said.
She further added that the root cause of child labour has to be identified and solved.
“Many employers prefer child workers as they can pay them lower wages no matter how much the workload is. Employment for the parents of these children has to be ensured so that they don’t drop out of school and look for work in the first place,” she urged.
World Children’s Day was first established in 1954 as Universal Children's Day and carries great importance as on this day in 1959 the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.
It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Various programmes and discussion meetings have been organized by different institutions of our country to celebrate this day.