Investing in our future means investing in our children — which is why the United Nations has designated every November 20 as Universal Children’s Day. It’s a time to promote togetherness worldwide, awareness of the problems children face in every corner of the globe, and improve the welfare of all children.
when is Universal Children's Day 2022
The United Nations (UN) Universal Children’s Day, established in 1954, is celebrated on November 20 to promote international togetherness and awareness among children worldwide. UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, promotes and coordinates this special Day, which also works towards improving children’s welfare.
History of Universal Children's Day
Children’s Day began on the second Sunday of June in 1857 by Reverend Dr. Charles Leonard, pastor of the Universalist Church of the Redeemer in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Leonard held a special service dedicated to and for the children. Leonard named the Day Rose Day, Flower Sunday, and Children’s Day.
Children’s Day was officially declared a national holiday by the Republic of Turkey in 1920, with a set date of April 23. Children’s Day has been celebrated nationally since 1920, with the Turkish government and the newspapers of the time declaring it a day for children. However, it was decided that an official confirmation was needed to clarify and justify this celebration, and the official declaration was made nationally in 1929 by the founder and the President of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
Though the United Nations established Universal Children’s Day in 1954, it wasn’t until November 20, 1959, that the UN General Assembly adopted an extended form of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Originally acquired in 1924 by the League of Nations, the UN adopted this document as its statement of children’s rights.
The original text reads as follows:
- The child must be given the means requisite for its normal development, both materially and spiritually.
- The hungry child must be fed, the child that is sick must be nursed, the backward child must be helped, the delinquent child must be reclaimed, and the orphan and the waif must be sheltered and succored.
- The child must be the first to receive relief in times of distress.
- The child must be put in a position to earn a livelihood and must be protected against every form of exploitation.
- The child must be brought up in the consciousness that its talents must be devoted to the service of its fellow men.
For the expanded version, the UN adopted ten additional principles with a concurrent resolution proposed by the delegation of Afghanistan, calling for governments to recognize these rights, strive for their acceptance, and publicize the document as widely as possible.
On November 20, 1989, The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The CRC is a human rights treaty setting out children’s civil, political, economic, social, health, and cultural rights. The document deals with child-specific needs and rights, requiring all nations that ratify it to be bound to it by international law and act within the child’s best interests.
In September 2012, the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations led the initiative for children’s education. He firstly wanted every child to be able to attend school, a goal by 2015. Secondly, to improve the skill set acquired in these schools. Finally, implementing education policies promotes peace, respect, and environmental concern.
Universal Children’s Day is not just a day to celebrate children for who they are but to bring awareness to children around the globe that have experienced violence in forms of abuse, exploitation, and discrimination. For example, children are used as laborers in some countries, immersed in armed conflict, living on the streets, and suffering from differences, be it religion, minority issues, or disabilities. Currently, about 153 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are forced into child labor.
Universal Children's Day Around The World
Universal Children’s Day is a day for children worldwide that aims to spread awareness about children’s problems and how to improve their wellbeing. Here are some similar events across the globe.
India Children’s Day is celebrated across India to increase awareness of children’s rights, care, and education. It is celebrated on November 14 every year as a tribute to India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. November 14
South Africa National Children’s Day The Government of the Republic of South Africa declared the first Saturday of November as National Children’s Day. The celebration aims to highlight progress being made towards the realization and promotion of the rights of children. November 7
Australia National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day Children’s Day is when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, communities, and Australians celebrate the strengths and culture of our children. It is an opportunity to learn about the crucial impact that culture, family, and community play in the life of every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child. August 4
Russia Children’s Day Celebrated since 1950, Children’s Day was established by the Women’s International Democratic Federation in Moscow. Moscow, St Petersburg, and other cities usually put on several activities. Free lunches and snacks are also prepared for kids from large families and orphanages.
Universal Children's Day by the Number
264 million: The number of children who do not go to school.
90% – Most children with disabilities do not attend school, facing multiple barriers, from stigma and ignorance to lack of infrastructure, materials, or trained teachers.
1 in 10 – It is estimated that there are 1 billion people worldwide with disabilities, and at least 1 in 10 are children.
150 million – The number of children worldwide engaged in child labor, not even having the chance to be children.
$1.25 – The average cost a day per child in developing countries to provide a full cycle of pre-primary through secondary education.
989 – Singapore topped all other countries, ranking 989 out of 1000 in 2019 for the fewest children missing out on childhood, according to to Save The Children.
375 – Niger ranked the lowest of all countries for the most amount of children missing out on childhood in 2019
43 – The United States badly trailed nearly all other advanced countries in helping children reach their full potential in a 2019 report by Save The Children.
26 million – The number of children out of school in Ethiopia because of the coronavirus pandemic
99% – The estimation of children worldwide — 2.3 billion — live in one of the 186 countries that have implemented some form of restrictions due to COVID-19.
How to Observe Universal Children's Day
Find an event
The UN sponsors events that bring together children and adults to raise awareness every year. In 2016, some of the world’s most prominent writers gathered to craft extremely short stories that highlight the problems the world’s poorest children face. Many of the UN’s subsidiaries also hold their events, so there will be plenty for you to choose from.
Spend some time in the community
You can host your event to help adults spend quality time with the kids from the community. This can be as simple as meeting in a local park, or it could be a more elaborate party organized by the local council. Either way, the point is to show the children how important it is to build a bond with the community.
Sponsor a child
UNICEF and other organizations have made it easier to donate or even sponsor a child at a fixed monthly price. A small donation can go a long way in changing a child’s life. If you’ve ever thought about sponsoring a child or donating to an international organization, make today the Day to do it.
Why Universal Children's Day is Important
Guarantees rights to children
In typical government documents, the rights given to people are generally understood to be for adults. However, thanks to the UN, governments worldwide have adopted treaties guaranteeing children the right to life, health, education, play, family, and protection from violence, discrimination, and suppression.
They are the future.
Changes take time. And by time, we mean generations. It starts with today’s children if we want to ensure a stable, safe, sustainable future for our planet. Early education is imperative, and the UN is leading the charge here.
It may be easy to overlook children’s problems today if they aren’t apparent in your daily life. Universal Children’s Day seeks to spread the knowledge that millions of children worldwide don’t have access to education, healthcare, or opportunities.