Stars and leaders around the world joined children and young people to reimagine a better post-pandemic world on annual World Children’s Day on 20 November. The day aims to raise awareness and funds for millions of children denied their right to adequate health care, nutrition, education and protection and to give a platform to children to speak up for their rights. Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, deputy executive director of Partnerships at UNICEF, says UNICEF Ambassadors took part in conversations with children and youth about issues that matter to them including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and education and how they would reimagine a better future. She says ambassadors included Ishmael Beah, David Beckham, Orlando Bloom, Millie Bobby Brown, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Halima Aden and Sachin Tendulkar.
According to Gornitzka, children in countries around the world met with presidents of Madagascar, Malawi and Suriname and the prime ministers of Côte d'Ivoire and Ireland to discuss their views and the need for their participation in post-pandemic recovery plans. She says ministers and other parliamentarians met with children in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Ethiopia, India, Italy, Montenegro, Nepal, Norway, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Zambia and Zimbabwe. “A number of UNICEF Youth Advocates were appointed around the world to help raise children and young people’s voices. They included Nicole Becker of Argentina; Renata Samuels of Belize; Meriam Amjoune and Chef Omar of Morocco; Priyanka Lalla of Trinidad and Tobago; and Enas Yousif, Makhtoum Abdalla and Monzir Mohammed Awad of Sudan,” says the deputy executive director. Gornitzka, says children took over newsrooms, newspapers and broadcast studios to report on issues that matter to them in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Romania, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and elsewhere. She says landmarks around the world turned blue including the Rashtrapati Bhavan in India, the Petra in Jordan, the Dragon Bridge in Vietnam and landmarks across Afghanistan, Argentina, Denmark, Georgia, Malawi, Pakistan, Sweden, Timor-Leste, Turkey and Zimbabwe. According to the deputy executive director, hundreds of young people from over 35 countries shared illustrations to reimagine a better world for every child as part of a World Children’s Day Global Illustration Challenge launched in October by Millie Bobby Brown, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She says a selection of drawings can be found on the Voices of Youth website and Instagram account. “2020 has been especially difficult for children and young people as they grapple with the effects of COVID-19. Throughout, they have not had enough of a voice in helping to shape today’s responses for what will continue to be tomorrow’s challenges. We hope this World Children’s Day is not just a day for children to speak up but helps spark a dialogue that gives children a greater voice now and for the crucial years to come,” says Gornitzka.