More than 94 million people all around the world agree: Every child
is entitled to a life of peace, health and dignity. In what has
become the largest pledge campaign for children in history, people
both young and old have declared their support for 10 imperatives
for ensuring a better world for children and young people.
The initiative is called Say Yes for Children. Not
only have 94 million people supported the campaigns 10-point
action agenda, they have identified the most urgent issues facing
children in their country, with education and HIV/AIDS ranked among
those most critical.
Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, and Graça
Machel, former Minister of Education in Mozambique, launched Say
Yes in April 2001, casting the first vote for children in
their back yard.
The campaign caught fire. So far, ballots have been collected from
people in 194 countries. Pledge forms have been translated into
scores of languages and distributed at book fairs and concerts,
in cinema theatres and rural markets.
Beyond the promises and commitments of the Say Yes
campaign, there has been action. Parliamentarians, grass-roots activists,
students and entire families have formed new partnerships and initiatives
to help secure a better future for young people. Organizations have
led marches and hosted debates on the role of national governments
in the growing Global Movement for Children (GMC).
And individuals from every part of society have used their creativity
and passion to spread the word. In Kazakhstan, for example, more
than 150 young journalists gathered in the capital to be trained
as leaders in the local Say Yes campaign. In Kenya,
a Say Yes/GMC van travelled around the country promoting the campaign
and collecting pledge forms. In Viet Nam, thousands of children
presented their vision of a better world by participating in a nationwide
writing and drawing contest. In Sri Lanka, teachers supported children
in more than 50 urban schools to rally their peers to Say
Yes. The students devised their own projects to actualize
each of the ten points of the campaign. They helped provide basic
services, toilets, safe water and furniture for young people in
poor and rural schools throughout the country.
On May 10, Mr. Mandela and Mrs. Machel presented the Say
Yes pledges to the President of the United Nations General
Assembly, Dr. Han Seung-soo, before an audience of world leaders
and others attending the UN Special Session on Children.
The ballots keep pouring in, and the Global Movement for Children
keeps growing. To join those committed to the cause of children,