By Augusta Uchediunor
Lagos, – As discrimination against children becomes widespread worldwide, the UNICEF says protecting the rights of every child is the surest way to build a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world for everyone.
The call became necessary as a new UNICEF report published ahead of 2022 World Children’s Day identified that discrimination against children based on ethnicity, language, and religion is rife globally.
The report, Rights denied: The impact of discrimination on children showed the extent to which racism and discrimination impact children’s education, health, access to a registered birth, and a fair and equal justice system.
It also highlighted widespread disparities among minority and ethnic groups.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that World Children’s Day is celebrated annually on Nov. 20.
First established in 1954 as Universal Children’s Day, it is celebrated each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.
On Nov. 20, 1959, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
And, since 1990, World Children’s Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the Declaration and the Convention on children’s rights.
“Systemic racism and discrimination put children at risk of deprivation and exclusion that can last a lifetime.
“This hurts us all.
“Protecting the rights of every child – whoever they are, wherever they come from – is the surest way to build a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world for everyone.
“On World Children’s Day and every day, every child has the right to be included, to be protected, and to have an equal chance to reach their full potential.
“All of us have the power to fight discrimination against children – in our countries, our communities, our schools, our homes, and our hearts.
“We need to use that power,’’ said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell, said in a statement issued by Blessing Ejiofor of UNICEF Nigeria.
Among the new findings, the report showed that children from marginalised ethnic, language and religious groups in an analysis of 22 countries lagged far behind their peers in reading skills.
On average, students aged seven-14 from the most advantaged group are more than twice as likely to have foundational reading skills than those from the least advantaged group.
“Nigeria has 18.3 million children who are not in school, and a high number of children attending schools but not getting a solid education that can translate into good prospects for their future.
“While this crisis affects children across the country, girls, children with disabilities, children from the poorest households, street children, and children affected by displacement or emergencies are affected more.
“Discrimination and exclusion deepen intergenerational deprivation and poverty and result in poorer health, nutrition, and learning outcomes for children.
“A higher likelihood of incarceration, higher rates of pregnancy among adolescent girls, and lower employment rates and earnings in adulthood.’’
The Youth Agency Marketplace (YOMA), a digital platform, is galvanising children and young people around the world, including the marginalized.
The platform intends to build and transform their lives by actively engaging them in innovation challenges, social impact tasks and learning to earning opportunities.
While COVID-19 exposed deep injustices and discrimination across the world, and the impacts of climate change and conflict continue to reveal inequities in many countries.
The report highlights how discrimination and exclusion have long persisted for millions of children from ethnic and minority groups and children living with disabilities, including access to immunisation, water and sanitation services, and a fair justice system. (NAN)