Youth in Jordan speak up for their rights

From climate change to violence - young people highlight the main issues facing their generation

Claire McKeever
20 November 2019

In the lead up to World Children's Day and to celebrate 30 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF teams travelled from north to south of Jordan to listen to young people speak on the issues most impacting their lives and to hear their solutions.

From these consultations involving 250 young people, here is their call for action - in their own words:

 

 

Climate Change

We are the voices asking why human kind has transformed our earth from something that provided us with a home, sustenance, and enriched our lives with flowers and plants, to a climate that burns trees and dries up our land in the summertime, and spoils crops and floods homes in the winter.

The trees we have chopped down. The rivers we have been soiled and the air we breathe has been polluted. Who do you think will have to pay for that? We will.

The whole world is aware of the repercussions of climate change - global warming, water scarcity, environmental pollution, ice melting, and many, many more devastating consequences.

We exist now on this earth that has been patient with us for so long, and has had to endure so much pain. But for how much longer?

Where will the children of today live in the future? What about the children of the next generation? On what earth will they live?

We are the voice of the lives that have been lost and the lives we will continue to lose if we do not take this change into our own hands.

This must stop; we must begin this change here, today.

This life and this earth are not to be taken for granted. Now that our eyes are open and we see that the world’s eyes have been opened, but where are you? Do not let us down. Do not let our earth die.


 

Education

We are the voices of children who are not getting quality education. Children who might be able to read and write, but will never fulfill their potential.

Education is not only about maths and reading and writing.

What about our future? Who will teach us all of the skills we need to succeed?

Good education includes principles, foundations, skills and health education that equips us to take on life and the world.

We are the voices of the children who believe that how we are raised is as important as our education. We are the voices of those who believe that education is, in fact, the responsibility of everyone in society.

How can education keep up with today’s needs? We need an education that builds us up, that gives us the space to thrive and allows our confidence to grow. An education that enables us to know our rights, appreciate our potential, and to give back.

We need an education that releases our true potential, while building our capabilities so that we can have a purposeful and meaningful future.

To reform a society, start with reforming education. Start investing in us - the generation of the future. Trust us, believe in us, and we will prove you right.


 

Protection

We are the voices of children who have been subjected to violence by those closest to them. The voices of children who have been abused by those who should have educated or protected them. Children who were bullied by their peers and neighbors who should have been their backbone.

We are the voices of children who only want to live in peace and safety.

Safety…

Safety means having a loving home, having a school that reassures them. Safety is a friend who comforts you, and secure neighborhoods and streets where children can walk and play freely. More importantly, safety means having the emotional security to grow confident and feel supported when faced with difficult and sad moments in life.

There is a leader inside every human being. Let's nurture that so that every child is in control of their future and can create the change they want to see in the world.

Let’s defeat and eradicate violence, bullying and harassment. Let’s break the cycle of violence in our society. What if you enforce stricter and more stringent penalties? Think of what could happen if we stop taking lightly the cases of violence within our community.

We should not have to stand here asking you to protect us from violence, it should be your job to come forward and tell us how you will protect us. This responsibility is yours and all of us - government, society, parents, children and everyone - should untie to say NO to violence! We have had enough!


 

Health

We are the voices of children in need of healthcare. How many children lost their lives because they were unable to get a hospital bed or proper treatment.

What about children and young people's psychological health? Does anyone care about that?

The minds of children today are stimulated and distracted by all means of technology, yet they are deprived from the basics and fundamentals of a healthy childhood. There are children going through serious mental health situations like depression, suicide attempts, anxiety and withdrawal.

If we want children of today to be happy and healthy, then we must act quickly and go back to the basics. We must provide children with not only the lifestyle they want, but also the healthy, balanced lifestyle that they need.

Children require a healthy lifestyle to grow, and they need to be able to access the necessary care. Yet, the type of care youth today need is no longer only provided in hospitals or from pharmacies. This kind of health care requires as much attention to our emotional and psychological well-being as it does to our physical selves.


 

Empowerment

We are the voices of children born today who are the future

Children who have big hopes and dreams.

Children who have substantial abilities, exceptional skills and limitless creativity.

Listen to us, give us our turn, give us our space. We are the generation who have the solutions. The generation full of creativity and ideas. If only you could give us our turn to talk, be listened to and affect change. If only you could give us the chance to take charge alongside you, and allow us to show you new ways and solutions. Let us take part by shadowing the work of the government – to have our say in the regulations, the policies and the institutions that impact on our lives. We are the foundation of this country.

You cannot do anything without us, because we are the generation of change.


 

Justice and Equality

We are the children who have been forgotten.

Children who are living beneath the crushing burdens of conflict, children with disabilities, children separated from their families, children belonging to marginalized communities. We are the voices of children who were forced to sacrifice their education and say farewell to their books to go to work and provide for their families.

You see them but do you listen to their stories? We want to be their voices so you start listening to them.

Children are children, with no labels or denominations.

Children have the right to live in peace and justice.

These children, we want to fill their hearts with the sound of hope and tell them that, regardless of all the challenges, we will all stand beside them in building a future where all people are equal.