CHILDREN OF THE WORLD INITIATIVE
At the beginning of the 21st Century the children of the world are facing an undeclared assault upon their childhood as they suffer as a result of poverty, sexual exploitation, abuse as well as becoming the innocent victims of wars and the HIV/AIDS epidemics.Ten years ago the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted and the UN Secretary General has stated “we have no higher priority, no prouder achievement, than our work for the rights of children!”
A few facts indicate it may be a little early “for we the people” to be proud of our achievement:
- 12 million children die before reaching their fifth year
- 100 million homeless children living in the streets around the world.
- 250,000 children die every week from diseases and malnutrition.
- 2 million children are objects of sexual abuse – child pornography and demand for child prostitutes has increased globally.
- 20 million children are refugees or internally displaced in their homeland.
- 10 million children are child slaves
- Millions of girls are ‘missing’ as a result of foeticide, infanticide and neglect.
Millions of children are being orphaned as their parents die of AIDS related illnesses.The figures are unimaginable – already 11 million children in sub-Saharan Africa alone have been orphaned by the AIDS epidemic and reliable sources estimate that by 2010 there will be more than 30 million children orphaned by AIDS decimating parents.
Millions more are being orphaned by poverty and war. The most defenceless victims of the savagery of war are children who are terrorized, often sexually abused, mutilated, forced to participate in killing or enrolled as child soldiers.Ethnic wars target children as they represent the future and in the last 10 years alone 1.5 million children have died in wars. Long after war is over children continue to be traumatized by their brutal experience and to be at risk as the hundreds of thousands of landmines left as a deadly legacy of war continue to maim or kill 800 children each month. Millions of children live their entire childhood in refugee camps.
In many countries orphans are considered as outcasts.Throughout the world millions of children are kept in grossly sub-standard orphanages and other institutions, suffering from inadequate food, clothing, medical care, lack of stimulation and neglect.Medical care for orphans is limited and basic medical supplies are scarce.
Every week 250,000 children die – victims of avoidable disease and malnutrition – and millions more are condemned to suffer poor health and stunted growth.Education is vital to the development of children and is recognized as a universal human right.Yet the unpalatable truthis millions of children inherit a lifelong handicap as they do not receive even a basic education.
AN UNACCEPTABLE TRAGEDY
WomenAid International regards the current state of affairs as an unacceptable tragedy.Children alone cannot argue for their rights – they need advocates to help them understand their rights, to work actively on their behalf and to build global, regional and national coalitions to ensure the world community is made fully aware of the abuses perpetrated on children.As the second UN Special Session on the Rights of the Child (2001) approaches, “we the people” should demand less rhetoric from our governments and more real action to put rights into practice.All governments should end impunity for those who violate child rights.
A constructive, pro-active partnership between children, adults, all sectors of civil society, child rights and well-being non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations, and all governments is vital if the full rights and well-being of the children of the world are to be secured.
WomenAid International supports projects offering solutions to the problems of the most vulnerable children and families, through prevention, information, out-reach and training activities.Of special focus are children in especially difficult circumstances: – refugee or IDP children, street children, children in conflict with the law or at risk of being in conflict with the law, drug and alcohol addicts and children in institutions.
WomenAid Children of the World Initiative (WCWI) includes:-
- Child Rights and Well-being Advocacy Programme
- Children of the Silk Road Programme: practical assistance projects
- Orphan Kidz OK!: support for orphan focused projects and NGOs working with orphans.
WomenAid Children of the World Initiative (WCWI) aims to allievate suffering of children by:
- Providing urgent relief aid and support for children in distress;
- Promoting child rights advocacy and development and training ‘Rights Educators’;
- Supporting youth friendly clinics, safe spaces, crisis centres and shelters providing respite to children in crisis, including the provision of crisis telephone help lines;
- Providing street children with access to 'life skills' – resisting peer pressure, problem solving, decision making and negotiation skills; as well as resources available to meet their immediate needs;
- Establishing multi-disciplinary services for children traumatised by war and low-intensity conflicts;
- Increasing awareness of the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemics upon children;
- Formulating concrete orphan support policies and empowering orphaned children, fostering the spirit of self-reliance;
- Mobilising effective community responses and strengthening childcare provision services, promoting the development of new models of care service delivery;
- Encouraging organisational and institutional capacity building and providing financial and material assistance, as well as training;
- Implementing rehabilitation and construction programmes;
- Developing media advocacy programmes to increase public support for the rights of children.
For many of us childhood memories are of certainty, the certainty of love, of feeling safe and of belonging. Millions of children are being denied such memories.By supporting the WomenAid Children of the World Initiative you can help a child in peril to experience a safer childhood.
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