HUMAN RIGHTS DAY 2012 -make your voice heard…

Human Rights Day presents an opportunity, every year, to celebrate human rights, highlight a specific issue, and advocate for the full enjoyment of all human rights by everyone everywhere.

This year, the spotlight is on the rights of all people — women, youth, minorities, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, the poor and marginalized — to make their voices heard in public life and be included in political decision-making.

These human rights — the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, to peaceful assembly and association, and to take part in government (articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) have been at the centre of the historic changes in the Arab world over the past two years, in which millions have taken to the streets to demand change. In other parts of the world, the “99%” made their voices heard through the global Occupy movement protesting economic, political and social inequality.


Make your voice count!

Share your thoughts about the right to participate in public life and political decision-making, using #VoiceCount.

Previous Human Rights Day themes

Human Rights Day 2011: Celebrate Human Rights

Human Rights Day 2010: Human rights defenders who act to end discrimination

Human Rights Day 2009: Special focus on discrimination

Human Rights Day 2007-2008: UDHR 60th Anniversary

Human Rights Day 2006: Fighting Poverty: A Matter of Obligation, Not Charity

Human Rights Day 2005: Torture and the Global Efforts to Combat it

Human Rights Day 2004: Human Rights Education


Inspiring children through play

There are many children who wake up screaming with nightmares -the nightmare of daily living does not give the child any respite -they may be in refugee camps,they may be fleeing bombs or sniper bullets, they may be under constant threat of being bullied or sexually abused -certainly few opportunities for them to dream of a better and safer future. UNICEF is trying to make these children’s lives more ‘child friendly’ through a basic approach -play.

Podcast: Inspiring children to dream, through play

For children growing up in crisis and post-conflict areas, opportunities for education and play are limited, and funding is scarce.  In the most recent edition to the ‘Beyond School Books’ series, UNICEF podcast moderator Femi Oke spoke with Ms. Cassie Landers, Columbia University, and Ms. Evelyn Margron, Tipa Tipa Program Country Director, on the importance of learning through play.  UNICEF is testing playground projects in Bangladesh and Haiti to inspire children’s dreams, to help them rebuild their confidence and rebuild communities.  Children are developing many skills in the playgrounds, such as learning geometry, verbalizing better and following rhythm. They are developing important social skills by learning how to play together and how to help younger children understand their capacities.
To listen to podcast click here.

International Women’s Day – 8th March 2012


If every International Women’s Day event held in 2012 includes girls in some way, then thousands of minds will be inspired globally.

Each year around the world, International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. Thousands of events occur not just on this day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women.

Organisations, governments, charities and women’s groups around the world choose different themes each year that reflect global and local gender issues.

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs -IWD

Some examples of resources:

Below are examples of some great International Women’s Day resources to share:

– UN Women Secondary School Kit 2012
– Deloitte’s International Women’s Day Toolkit
– We are Equals posters, badges and stickers
– Celebrating Working Women International Women’s Day video

Previous United Nations International Women’s Day themes:

– 2011: Equal access to education, training and science and technology
– 2010: Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all
– 2009: Women and men united to end violence against women and girls
– 2008: Investing in Women and Girls
– 2007: Ending Impunity for Violence against Women and Girls
– 2006: Women in decision-making
– 2005: Gender Equality Beyond 2005: Building a More Secure Future
– 2004: Women and HIV/AIDS
– 2003: Gender Equality and the Millennium Development Goals
– 2002: Afghan Women Today: Realities and Opportunities
– 2001: Women and Peace: Women Managing Conflicts
– 2000: Women Uniting for Peace
– 1999: World Free of Violence against Women
– 1998: Women and Human Rights
– 1997: Women at the Peace Table
– 1996: Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future
– 1975: First IWD celebrated by the United Nations

And if you want a longer historical perspective:


From Cultural Survival

In the spirit of the historical value of International Women’s Day, it is also important to understand the struggles Indigenous women face. Gender based violence and gender discrimination is an everyday reality for many Indigenous women. A 1999 study of the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually violated than women in the United States in general. In Canada, the rate of single mother Aboriginal families is nearly double that of the general population (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada). In the Somali region of Ethiopia, a recent survey found that the literacy rate for female pastoralists was 4.8 percent, compared to a 22.7 percent literacy rate for male pastoralists (UNPFII).


While these examples paint the gravity of the challenges Indigenous women face, it can also be said that the spirits of Indigenous women remain unbreakable. One of the many things Indigenous women have taught us is that where there is struggle, there is strength, and where there is persecution, there is endurance. While Indigenous women are more likely to be robbed of their lands and languages, there are many Indigenous women like jessie little doe Baird and her language apprentices from the Wampanoag Nation of southeastern Massachusetts, who are revitalizing threatened languages. And while Indigenous women often lack political representation, there are increasing numbers of Indigenous women serving as local, regional, and national representatives as in Peru and Venezuela where Indigenous women have been elected members of their national parliaments. Read more.

  • Watch. Celebrate International Women’s Day and U.S. Women’s History Month with the Independent Television Service’s online film festival featuring “extraordinary women and girls on the front lines of change around the world.” Watch We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân through March 31st and meet Cultural Survival’s Endangered Languages Program partners at the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project: jessie little doe Baird and language apprentices Nitana Hicks, Tracy Kelley, and Melanie Roderick, and the Wampanoag Nation of southeastern Massachusetts.

An Experience of Capacity Development on Education in Emergencies from Lesotho – UNICEF

From the INEE newsletter:

In 2009, the UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO) launched a

strategy for national capacity development in partnership with Save the Children under the aegis

of the IASC Education Cluster. The objective was to  build and strengthen sustainable national

emergency preparedness and response capacity in the education sector in ESAR holistically and

strategically, by supporting national authorities at all levels.


A first step in achieving this objective is  training of  frontline responders from Ministries of

Education and other authorities from national, provincial and district levels, and key education

actors. A training package was devised which centres on practical and technical components of

education in emergencies including contingency planning and preparedness processes to mitigate

the impact of disasters on schools and learners. A key focus on disaster risk reduction (DRR) in

countries and localities experiencing recurrent emergencies such as floods, cyclones and drought

has also been incorporated.
The full report is available here

At What Age… Are School Children Employed, Married and Taken to Court?

INEE has reported on a recent report from Right to Education

This publication analyses national legislation on the duration of compulsory education and legal safeguards against adult responsibilities infringing on children’s education. What it shows is that children’s right to education is currently under threat from early marriage, child labour and imprisonment; States have not adapted their legislation in favour of the right to education, and they do not have agreed standards for the transition from childhood to adulthood either internationally or nationally.

The full report is available here

WORLD AIDS DAY -December 1st , 2011

I have just written a post on children and discrimination and in many countries children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS are still discriminated against. While I was working in Guyana I discovered that patients entering a hospital could easily be given infected blood as they did not have the blood testing equipment. The blood tests worked out just a few pence each , but if you don’t have the kits or equipment….

INEE has again come up with a list of helpful resources:



How many are affected by HIV and AIDS?

At the end of 2010, UNAIDS and WHO estimated that around 34 million people are living with HIV worldwide, while 2.7 million persons have been newly infected with HIV, including an estimated 390,000 children, and 1.8 million people died of AIDS-related diseases (down from a peak of 2.2 million in the mid-2000s). The 2011 UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report also highlights that thanks to introduction of anti-retroviral therapy, a total of 2.5 million deaths have been avoided in low- and middle-income countries since 1995. Much of that achievement has taken place in the past two years when the access to treatment rapidly expanded; in 2010 alone, 700,000 AIDS-related deaths were averted.

Eliminating New HIV Infection among Children

The Global Plan, developed by UNAIDS, as part of the Millennium Development Goals, aims to eliminate, by 2015, new HIV infections among children and keep their mothers alive. Although this plan covers all low- and middle-income countries, its main focus is on 22 countries (mostly in the sub-Saharan Africa) with the highest estimated numbers of pregnant women living with HIV. To prevent new HIV infections among children and keep their mothers alive, pregnant women living with HIV and their children need anti-retroviral drugs. When antiretroviral drugs are used as prophylaxis, HIV transmission can be reduced to less than 5%.

The Impact of HIV/AIDS on Education

A UNESCO report stresses that children are the most affected group as a result of HIV/AIDS, as they live with sick relatives in households with constrained resources. If one or both of their parents are ill or die, they are often left emotionally and physically vulnerable, and it is very common that they are taken out of school in order to care for the sick and contribute to the family income. Girls are disproportionately affected in this case. The report also highlights that teachers living with HIV are often absent due to the illness or medical treatment. Consequently, pupils are left without any schooling because of shortage of teachers.



Guidance on HIV in Education in Emergencies (online here) 

Developed by the INEE Task Team on HIV and the UNAIDS Task Team on Education, this tool provides information for education practitioners who provide, manage or support education services in emergencies. It provides guidance for mainstreaming HIV and sexual and reproductive health issues into formal and nonformal education responses for adolescents 10-19 years old.

World Aids Campaign —

Specialises in promoting the skills, knowledge and strategies required to successfully campaign, advocate and lobby on universal access.

World Aids Day —

Facts on HIV, awareness raising, events, video messages from politicians and celebrities who support the tackling of HIV.


Key publications, Guidance, 2010 Progress report, data and statistics, UNAIDS Strategy 2010-2015, resources.

and some story telling:

Children and Discrimination – CRIN’s excellent website and toolkit

CRIN (Children’s Rights International Network)  has established an excellent website and toolkit on children and discrimination.

The aims of the site are:

  • promote understanding of how discrimination affects all children’s rights
  • shed light on age discrimination against children
  • support the removal of barriers to all children’s inclusion


Discrimination involves treating an individual or a group of people unfairly in comparison to others because of who they are, or their circumstances.

The right to non-discrimination is a well-established human rights principle and one of the four over-arching principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). This means that all children should enjoy all rights set out in the CRC. For any right to be realised, children must not be discriminated against.

The UN Human Rights Committee defines discrimination as:

“any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference which is based on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status and which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by all persons, on an equal footing, of all rights and freedoms.” (General Comment 18) Read more about definitions here.

Discrimination may be deliberate and intended, or unintentional. 

Although there has been significant work on this topic, the wide range of ways in which children experience different forms of discrimination has not been sufficiently explored or challenged. 

Why a toolkit on non-discrimination? 

Looking at rights violations through the lens of discrimination helps to expose prejudices and beliefs that may have led to unfair treatment – whether such treatment was intentional or otherwise. It can create new means of challenging negative actions, whether through law, policy, education or practice.

So, for example, by understanding that the corporal punishment of children, if legal within a given State, constitutes discrimination on the basis of age (an adult smacking another adult can be prosecuted for battery), it helps us to think about the issue in a different way. 

What is it about children that makes us think it is acceptable to hit them, but not adults – or even animals! Are there other ways in which this discriminatory view of children affects how we behave towards them? Why is discrimination towards other groups of people, for example ethnic minorities, normally considered unacceptable, yet sanctioned by the State when it comes to children?

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has non-discrimination as a core right for children. CRIN has made a detailed analysis of this right and how it relates to the other articles of the CRC:

Guide to non-discrimination and the CRC       Download in pdf

Challenging discrimination

Challenging discrimination against children requires a range of strategies which cover many different areas and are rightfully tailored to account for the particular situation of children in their countries.

Nevertheless, successful efforts will include certain key components. These include: changing legislation, policy, attitudes, as well as the physical environment and the allocation of resources that perpetuate inequalities and discrimination, providing channels for children’s participation, collecting data, and establishing mechanisms to monitor and report discrimination.

The pages that follow provide some guidance on these diverse areas and examples of how discrimination has been successfully challenged.






Advocacy examples

More information 

Other international instruments addressing discrimination include, among others:

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD, 1965)

UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW, 1979)

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2008)

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities

UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 18 on Non-discrimination (1989)

UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Draft General Comment on Discrimination and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2009)


You may also like to view the website on the Children’s Rights Alliance as well as UNICEF


Check also the Children’s Rights Wiki:

NEW Children’s Rights Wiki

  • brings together all information about children’s rights in one place
  • highlights persistent violations
  • inspires collective action