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This blog post was written by Kia Salmela, Intern at RWI.
Every year 20th of November, World Children’s Day, also known as Universal Children’s Day, celebrates and promotes children’s welfare worldwide.
The day is a milestone in human rights history because on the 20th of November 1959 UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, and 30 years later, on the 20th of November 1989, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is today the most worldwide ratified human rights treaty.  Still, inequality often affects most children: according to UNICEF, children are more than twice as likely to live in poverty than adults, and child poverty has increased in several OECD countries, despite the efforts and introduced policies to promote children’s rights.
This day is close to my heart through my work, and I want to share some reflections. In daily work as a social worker, I’ll face the consequences of inequality through working with youths in Malmö Municipality, where one of the four children lives at risk of child poverty. The policies talk about prioritizing children’s well-being, but this is often far away from reality. Inequality is visible through segregation; for example, in Rosengård neighborhood in Malmö, the child poverty rate was 49 % in 2019, which is five times higher than at the national level. However, it is vital to acknowledge that interlinking only specific neighborhoods to inequality and vulnerability create more stigma and identity struggle for the people in the neighborhood. The social problems and poverty are not made in these neighborhoods but are the product of unequal policies and society. Children everywhere have dreams and ideas that need to be heard. Every child needs to be included in society, encouraged to reach their dreams, and believe in themselves, to tell that they are enough and capable just in the way they are. All children should be able to speak out, listen to and meet equally, regardless of their background.
Segregation and poverty rates do not tell about the children living in the neighborhoods but about the society’s values. Even human rights, which are supposed to protect everyone, can be elitist in many ways by being unavailable to ordinary people. Human rights are only words, documents, and policies if there is no action. The language is often not inclusive, making it challenging for children to understand their rights. It is not enough to talk fine words; policies and treaties must include acts for all people.
This takes us back to World Children’s Day. This year’s theme is Inclusion for every child, and children are globally standing up for an inclusive and more equal world through different kinds of activities, one of them being TIKTOK challenge created by UNICEF. Another challenge encourages people to support children’s rights by turning the world blue, for example, wearing something blue or lighting the buildings blue.  In other words, the day includes fun activities that deliver a serious message.
I would encourage everyone to follow the example and think about what they can do to create a better future for future generations because children are the future. In the end, it is the action that really matters.
Featured image: Larm Rmah