We Must Listen To Children, Young People — UNICEF Advises

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As the World Children’s Day is marked on Friday, UNICEF says it is important to listen to children and young people to encourage them to reimagine  a brighter future and achieve what they aspire to be

Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, made the call  in Lagos on Friday at a programme  to celebrate 2020 World Children’s Day with the theme focused on reimagining a better future for every child.

World Children’s Day is UNICEF’s global day of action for children, by children, marking the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of a Child (CRC) on Nov. 20, 1989.

Hawkin’s said: “ World Children’s Day is when  we mark   the adoption of  the convention of the rights of  the child. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is the primary human rights instrument for children

“It has been 31 years since  world leaders made a historic commitment to the world’s children by adopting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“All children should have dignity, life, good health but more importantly they should be able to smile.

“Today we celebrate the achievements of children over the last 30 years, but  also re-emphasise  what we have to do to ensure  that Nigerian children, all children can have dignity, health and be able to aspire.

“Childhood has changed; we must listen to children and young people who are asking for change. Perhaps, nowhere is more true than in Nigeria,’’ he said.

“You must listen to what the children and young people have to say or reimagine.

“On days like this, we are hearing from children on the future. Let us listen to what they have to say. Let them design and reimagine what they want Nigeria to be.’’

He  charged children and young people to learn, listen, be united in purpose and good character to move forward.

Hawkins noted that 2020 had been a more difficult year for children with the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, difficulty in getting all children to learn virtually, insecurity, the diverse protests and unemployment.

However, he said that the recent protests had also given young people a voice.

He urged  everyone to contribute and be committed  to helping children and youth achieve their dreams.

In the same vein, Mr Segun Dawodu, Commissioner, Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Lagos State, was represented by Adewunmi Ogusanya, Acting Permanent Secretary in the ministry.

According to him, the ministry  is passionate about creating  an enabling environment  for children through highly committed  and motivational  personnel who give succour to the vulnerable.

According to Dawodu, UNICEF had  been a formidable development partner  with  the ministry  especially in its supportive role  and  collaborative effort to strengthen  the child protection system in the state.

Some of the children who participated in the programme urged governments and parents to create  an enabling environment for children to learn, be creative and soar.

Miss Sherifat Umar, Speaker of the Lagos State Children’s Parliament, urged children to dream and work towards what they want to be.

Miss Habeebat Olatunde  of the Slum2School Africa, said that some of the challenges faced by children included substandard education system, insecurity and lack of adequate healthcare facilities and basic infrastructure including shelter, water and electricity.

Also, Oseni Abdulmalik of the Slum2School Africa said that every child has a right to good education and an environment where there is a ‘voice for the voiceless’.

He urged governments to make the country an easier place for children to live in.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the event also officially unveiled “ Lara and Ali ‘’,  UNICEF’s animated characters for children and young people.

Through the animation, fun and child-friendly information would be shared to help children understand their rights, create awareness on issues that children care about, and advocate for a better future for every child.

Also, there was an Art Exhibition where young people showcased their  drawings on their interpretation of the world they want to build after the COVID-19 pandemic. (NAN)

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