UNICEF marks World Children’s Day with event spotlighting young talents standing up for a more equal, inclusive future
18th November 2022, Phnom Penh – To celebrate World Children’s Day, UNICEF today held an event which brought together children, young people and supporters including senior figures from the Royal Government of Cambodia, influencers, representatives and entrepreneurs from the development and diplomatic community. This year’s World Children’s Day is focused on children and young people who are helping create a more equal and inclusive world. The Phnom Penh event shone a spotlight on the young leaders of Generation Future, a UNICEF initiative which has reached more than 2,000 children and young people already this year.
World Children’s Day is an annual day of action, by and for children and young people. On this day, UNICEF and other partners call on everyone to promote and celebrate children’s rights, leading to actions that build a better world with them.
“World Children’s Day is a special day which gives young people a platform to speak out about what they value most and want to see change,” said Noppon Chhim, 19, who leads a Generation Future project promoting greater equality in youth employment. “I am honoured, excited and humbled to be given this opportunity to be a voice for young people, and to highlight opportunities for us all to work together to address challenges and help develop Cambodia’s youth. I believe children should be involved in shaping the future even when young, so they can develop the necessary skills and experience to become future leaders.”
The day featured an impressive line-up of speakers, a fascinating panel discussion, and a range of football games inspired by the upcoming World Cup. The new members of Generation Future showcased their projects at the event, hosting booths which guests visited to learn more and ask questions. Their projects aim to promote inclusion and equality by addressing varied issues, including environmental conservation, youth employment, early education, and children’s health.
Speakers at the event included His Excellency, Samheng Boros, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth (who is also a mentor on the project), His Excellency Put Samith, the Director General at the Ministry of Education, Joseph Scheuer, the United Nations’ Resident Coordinator in Cambodia, Doctor Anirban Chatterjee, UNICEF’s Acting Representative in Cambodia. Thierry Chantha Bin, the Cambodian national footballer, joined the event and led the football activities, to the joy of the young people in attendance. Another highlight were musical performances by musicians Nikki Nikki and Sang Sok Serey, both of whom use their platforms to fight for a more equal future for all.
“On behalf of the Ministry of Education, I am pleased to join the celebration of World Children’s Day every year,” said Put Samith, the Director General at the Ministry of Education. “This event is important and meaningful in encouraging children’s ideas and ambitions, and promoting young people’s confidence and hope for a better future through access to good-quality education and support. The Ministry supports the initiative as prioritized in the Education Road Map 2030, the five-year strategic plan and the annual executive plan to invest in education for young people.”
“World Children’s Day is important because we cannot build a sustainable future without involving the people who are in fact going to live in that future,” said Joseph Scheuer, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Cambodia. “Everyone at the United Nations strongly supports young people participating in all aspects of the country’s development. We must encourage young people’s actions and give them the tools to meet the challenges. Generation Future is an example of an initiative which has built an ecosystem around the bright ideas of promising young people.”
At last year’s World Children’s Day event, UNICEF unveiled the pilot of Generation Future, with 13 projects tackling a range of important issues. These campaigns ultimately reached thousands of young Cambodians and most continue to this day. With the initiative’s potential confirmed, UNICEF expanded it in 2022. UNICEF received more than 450 applications, three times as many as 2021, from which 15 were chosen to lead Generation Future 2022. They have already recruited 150 volunteers to help them deliver their projects and over the last six months have received expert mentoring and tailored training on fundraising, communications, budget management, and getting their message out on social media.
The key to the expansion of the programme’s impact has been developing closer partnerships with the Royal Government of Cambodia, civil society, and the private sector. A shining example is our partnership with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, which led to six of our young leaders delivering their programmes through the Ministry’s Local Life Skills Programme. More than 900 students in Siem Reap recently benefited from workshops held by Generation Future members on topics including youth employability, oral health, early education and environmental conservation.
“We launched Generation Future to give young people an opportunity to lead projects which would help them to move forward in ways that are centred on children's needs and hopes,” said Doctor Anirban Chatterjee, UNICEF’s Acting Representative in Cambodia. “We are thrilled that they rose to the challenge and that the baton has been picked up by this new group of remarkable young people. Cambodian children and young people are striving for a better future, and we continue to work to support them in every area of their life, including education, health, and child protection. We put children at the heart of all these programmes. But nothing is more exciting than when they lead on these issues, as they have shown us today, exemplifying the spirit of World Children’s Day.”
More information on the projects can be found at https://www.unicef.org/cambodia/meet-generation-future.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.