Sonya Yoncheva: “Allow children to express themselves and you will be amazed by the results”

Ahead of World Children’s Day UNICEF Bulgaria’s Goodwill Ambassador shared a stage with UNICEF and other high-level UN officials in Geneva to advocate for child rights

18 November 2023
Националният посланик на добра воля сподели една сцена с УНИЦЕФ и други високопоставени представители на ООН, за да се застъпи за детските права
United Nations/2023/Zeyu He

SOFIA, 18 November 2023 – A special event called “Committed to the fulfilment of the rights of Every Child: an evening with the world-famous soprano Sonya Yoncheva, UNICEF Bulgaria National Ambassador” took place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The purpose was to highlight the importance of child rights ahead of World Children’s Day (November 20); to mark the upcoming 100 anniversary of the Geneva Declaration (from 1924) which for the first time ever stipulated that children have a special set of rights; and to celebrate Bulgaria’s election as a member of the UN Human Rights Council (with a mandate 2024-2026), which puts a focus on the promotion of child rights, measures to fight discrimination and empower girls and women, advancing best practices for inclusion of children with disabilities in education.

The special event was organized by the Permanent Mission of Bulgaria and the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG) in cooperation with the Diplomatic Club of Geneva and UNICEF Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia with the support of UNICEF Bulgaria.

“More than six decades after the establishment of World Children's Day, the state of the world remains far from ideal for children. Over the past year, too many children have been killed in armed conflicts, while many others have been forced to flee their homes to escape war and extreme poverty”, said Regina De Dominicis, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Special Coordinator for the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe and UNICEF Representative to the UN in Geneva. She added: “In the face of ongoing crises, children teach us resilience, bravery, and hope for a brighter future. As we witness their unwavering spirit, it becomes abundantly clear that it is our collective responsibility to tirelessly strive towards creating a world that is genuinely worth celebrating for every child”.

World renowned opera singer and National Ambassador of UNICEF in Bulgaria, who participated in a high-level dialogue with Mrs. De Dominicis, picked up on that note and emphasized:

Most of you in this room tonight are diplomats – for me, my art is my diplomacy. This is something that I am very passionate about because I have seen its impact in real life. It is a universal language through emotion. Art – whether it’s music, singing, dancing, drawing, etc. – develops children’s creative thinking and really unleashes their potential”, Sonya Yoncheva pointed out to a room full of high-level officials and guests. She added: “But what other benefits art can bring to a child’s life: in times of so many wars, it creates peace among children; in times of stress for all of us, it brings mental wellbeing; and most importantly – it gives marginalized and vulnerable kids a new perspective and opportunity in life: to discover who they are, what they can, to believe in themselves and to contribute to society!”

Соня Йончева, Национален посланик на УНИЦЕФ България“  в Двореца на нациите в Женева
UnitedNations/2023/Zeyu He

The Bulgarian soprano and mother of 2 children stressed that children should have more opportunities to access and experience art – as a preventative measure for multiple challenges and as an empowerment tool that many girls and boys need. She pleaded to the diplomats to appreciate art, invest in it, expose children to it and allow them to express themselves through it. To demonstrate the power of this practice, the highlight of the evening was a special performance by the children’s ensemble “Music Ensemble plus” from the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève together with Sonya Yoncheva who is a Godmother to this special educational programme for children from vulnerable backgrounds.

In his remarks His Excellency Ambassador Yuri Sterk, Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to the UN in Geneva stated: “I am happy that we can mark together, in the aftermath of Bulgaria’s election to the Human Rights Council, important developments in the history of recognition of children’s rights. The motto of our election campaign was “Committed to contribute”: contribute to the cause of human rights at home and worldwide. And as a matter of priority, we committed to support the elaboration of adequate policies aimed to ensure the fulfillment of the rights of all children without discrimination, including through universal access to education, improved school environment and by providing quality education online. We are looking forward to pursuing these undertakings - having in mind the century-long maturing of the understanding that children have to be recognized as subjects of rights entitled to special care, protection and encouragement.”

Media contacts

Boryana Gidikova
Communication Officer
UNICEF Bulgaria
Tel: +359 893 52 52 40

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF Bulgaria and its work for children, visit

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