Aspiring young leader advocating for a better life for every child in Ethiopia
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Kalkidan Hailemariam, 15, is the President of the Addis Ababa Children’s parliament. Along with designated executive committee members, representing the 10 sub-cities in Addis Ababa, this aspiring young leader develops plans on how best to contribute to improving the lives of children in the city. Beyond their role as representatives, the child MPs also volunteer to support vulnerable families and children.
This World Children’s Day, we celebrate young leaders who stand up for the rights of children.
Kalkidan joined the Addis Ababa Children’s parliament two years ago, and she says it has enabled her to believe that she can do anything in life. She believes that children need be heard not because they are the future of the country but because they can also be part of providing solutions for the challenges they face today.
Kalkidan is energetic and motivated. “I have seen my ability to speak and convince people after I became President,” she says. She has spoken at various high-level events including the national launch of the Situation Analysis of Children and Women in Ethiopia in October this year. She stresses the need to invest in children now to enable them to realize their dreams and contribute to the country’s development.
Children's parliaments have been established throughout Ethiopia to facilitate the participation of children in family, societal, community and government affairs and to enable them to voice their concerns. The first Children’s Parliament was inaugurated and became operational in September 2006. In 2017, UNICEF supported the government to revise the National Children’s Parliament Guidelines and to revitalize the children’s parliament to deepen meaningful participation of children.
In her spare time, Kalkidan engages in diverse activities that make her happy. She loves to write and is part of the traditional dancing club at her school. Kalkidan has written two books which she hopes to publish soon. All proceeds will be donated to vulnerable families.
“Everyone should be responsible for the children they bring into this world,” she says.
Kalkidan believes that every child should have the right to a good life. For her, child rights is about ensuring that all children’s rights are respected and children can grow up happy and protected.
“Every adult needs to set a good example for future generations. Children need to learn about peace from the beginning,” she says.