UNICEF remarks on World Children's Day 2021

Attributed to Dr. Munir Safieldin, UNCEF Representative to Uganda

18 November 2021
world children's day 2021 child participation, COVID19, COVID-19, world children's day 2021 contest
UNICEF Uganda/2021/Abdul

Happy World Children’s Day!

I am delighted to join you today as we celebrate your special day.

A fun day for children by children but with serious messages; 

A day that reminds us that children and young people have voices and concerns that need to be heard; 

A day that highlights critical issues that affect the lives of children and young people;

A day that reminds all of us here today to take action for children and young people, especially the most deprived, for the betterment of their lives.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

For the second year in a row, World Children’s Day will be celebrated amidst a global pandemic that continues to deny children their rights and crushing many of their dreams. The pandemic has and continues to exacerbate violations of the rights of billions of children around the world and here in Uganda. Thousands continue to suffer and live with the direct and indirect impact of the pandemic – some physical, social, mental, and emotional. In addition, many families in Uganda are constrained to meet their basic needs due to limited resources at their disposal which has had a strong negative impact on the lives of children and young people.

On the other hand, with the lockdown and study and work from home, the pandemic has availed us with opportunities to spend more time with our children, engage and interact with them, hear their concerns, and discuss possible solutions. I wonder if parents used these opportunities effectively. Can parents say that they now know their children better and they understand their feelings and concerns much better? 

The impact of COVID-19 on children is enormous and far reaching. We risk losing a generation if we do not act now.

To highlight critical issues affecting children through their voices as we commemorate the World Children’s Day 2021, UNICEF and partners reached out to children and young people aged 20 years and below tasking them to share the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their lives, education, dreams, and families through a nationwide creativity contest. The first of its kind!

The contest that has attracted over 300 entries in various categories and has provided us with insights into the impact of the pandemic through the lenses of young people.

Ladies and gentlemen

Through their entries, the children, and young people have communicated and are eager to provide solutions to the new challenges presented by the pandemic, only if we give them an opportunity. They are ready to work with the parents, guardians, politicians, civil society, policy makers, the media, religious leaders, community leaders to devise possible solutions that will contribute to their survival and well-being now and in the many years to come.

As the nation gradually recovers from the pandemic, it is important more than ever that we listen to children for a better future beyond COVID-19. They have all the ideas as to how to address the world’s and nation’s big problems. Their ideas are worth listening to.

Our duty is to Listen to them, Learn and Act. We will listen to some of their proposed solutions in the course of this event.

Honourable Minister, I pledge UNICEF’s continued support to the Government of Uganda during and post the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure children and young people remain at the forefront of all the planned interventions. This we could do better if we considered children and youth as partners, change agents and not as beneficiaries of our programmes only. 

As I conclude, I wish to thank ALL the contestants for taking part in this inaugural nationwide World Children’s Day 2021 creativity contest. Your voices have been heard!

To the Judges, thank you for your dedication towards the selection process and for mentoring the winners. 

To the winners of the contest here present, I congratulate you all. 

Thank you. 

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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.

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