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'All Rights for All Children' - coming together for CRC

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26 November 2014
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TASHKENT, 24 November 2014 - On Thursday the 20th of November, almost 800 people filed into the Youth Creativity Palace in Tashkent, to take part in the ‘CRC@25: All Rights for All Children’ exhibition and event. The momentous occasion they had come to celebrate, the largest yet conducted by UNICEF Uzbekistan and its national partners, served to recognise the importance of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to make sure every child in Uzbekistan can benefit fr om the same set of fundamentally-important universal child rights.

The 20th of November of 2014 is an esteemed date, both the 25th Anniversary of the establishment of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC@25), and an ideal moment to recognise the importance of the ‘Year of the Health Child’ in Uzbekistan. Thursday’s event drew together a diverse group of participants, which included Deputy Prime Minister, parliamentarians, representatives of ministries and departments,national NGOs and the mass media, teachers, health professionals, parents, diplomatic community and most importantly, children fr om every walk of life.

The event in particular involved some of society’s most overlooked, unseen or marginalised children — children living with disabilities, who are HIV-positive, who come from low-income families, who live in isolated regions of the nation or outside of a loving family environment.

«Today’s event was a reminder that all children have rights," said Sasha, a young person living in an institution and a filmmaker who participated in the recent UNICEF-supported ‘OneMinuteJr’ workshop. «There are some cases wh ere children’s rights are not protected and respected, so that is why I think this event is very important — reminding people about children and the rights of children.»

25 Years of Progress

There is a reason why nations around the globe drew a ring around the 20th of November on calendars, as a day to come together in celebration. 25 years ago on that date, the Convention on the Rights of the Child was established, and from that day forth 194 countries have ratified, accepted, or acceded to it.

The creation of this convention was a landmark in human history. It was the first time that nations unilaterally agreed that every child, regardless of their gender identity, their nationality (or lack of a nationality), their creed, their religion, their economic background or any other factor, are inherently deserving of a healthy childhood, of a quality education, of a loving family environment, and of a way to have their voices heard. The Convention also outlines the responsibilities that young people themselves hold.

Most importantly the Convention focused on ‘the best interests of the child’, putting children at the centre of the discussion of issues that impacted them. What mattered most was not what adults thought what was best for children, or indeed what was appropriate for them, but that children should have a say in decisions that affect them.

The ‘CRC@25: All Rights for All Children’ event in Tashkent has sought to embody this last principle. It focused primarily on giving young people voices, empowering them to speak up about matters that they wish to draw attention to, and have discussed.

Learning about Child Rights

The CRC event in Tashkent drew particular attention to how young people have worked directly with UNICEF and its partners to make sure their voices are heard. Empowering young people to be advocates for change in their communities has been a cornerstone of UNICEF’s initiatives in Uzbekistan, and this was reflected at the gathering.

Among the event’s participants were a group of HIV-positive adolescents who have taken up the mantle of peer-to-peer counsellors — a sounding board for other teenagers and children who have recently been diagnosed, and who are coming to terms with their status.

"It is very important that with our status, we were not stopped when we entered the event," said one HIV-positive youth and peer-to-peer counsellor. "There was no discrimination against us." Another youth counsellor shared her reflections — "Today the head of UNICEF spoke about what has happened for rights of the child in the past 25 years," she said. "In this time there have been some results, but I think we need to continue this work."

Also present at the event were the young actors and actresses who were involved in producing the ground-breaking ‘Kuch Birlikda’ (Power in Unity) edutainment TV serial. This series shared the purpose of the CRC@25 gathering — spreading word about the CRC and its vital importance in healthy societies.

"Like today’s ‘All Rights for All Children’ exhibition, our serial has helped young people because each episode raises a different issue that concerns us all," said youth actor Saidalokhon, who in series portrays the ‘Azamat’ character — a silent but headstrong boy who lives in an institution. "The TV series is useful for parents too, because they can make their own conclusions about children’s participation, and can make sure their own children have a voice."

The CRC event in Tashkent also presented the work of the Children’s Parliament — a programme in which children and teenagers have been chosen to represent their individual regions, by sharing the concerns and perspectives of young people with all levels of government in Uzbekistan. Through creating this link on a policy level, the young parliamentarians have helped give Uzbekistan’s children and teenagers a stronger voice in their communities, regions and nation.

Another essential part of promoting the rights of the child is making sure that children can begin their lives with the best possible start. The results of the ‘Improvement of Mother and Child Health Services’ project, conducted by UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Health and with financial support from the European Union, were presented at the event. In attendance at the CRC event were not just the health practitioners who have benefited from the training provided by the project, but also parents and their children whose survival and health were secured as a result of the initiative’s work.

As the culmination of on-going collaboration between UNICEF and the British Council of Uzbekistan, a number of creative activities were organised at the exhibition hall’s second floor, wh ere participants could try their hand at a number of traditional Uzbek crafts (while also practicing their English language skills with dedicated United Nations Volunteers).

A Celebration of Children

One universal right of the child is the right to self-expression. To bring this right to the fore the organisers of the CRC@25 gala event created opportunities for participating children and teenagers to showcase their considerable creative talents.

The CRC@25 event was concluded in spectacular fashion with a closing gala concert. A performance by an astonishing troupe of drummers and percussionists was followed with traditional dances from Tashkent City and the Republic of Karakalpakstan, a heartfelt recreation of a scene from Charlie Chaplin’s legendary ‘City Lights’ film, and a surprise appearance by Uzbekistan’s star singer Lola Yuldasheva who has expressed a desire to take up the role of a National Child Rights Champion.

At the beginning of the Gala event, UNICEF Representative in Uzbekistan Mr. Robert Fuderich, and representatives of the agencies’ key partners, reiterated why the CRC should be upheld in Uzbekistan, as the nation continues to grow and develop. The need for reflecting on the past, and planning for the future, was highlighted in his speech.

"As we mark the 25th Anniversary of the Convention, we must not simply take account of the successes during these past two-and-a-half decades," Mr. Fuderich said.

"We must critically analyse, courageously look forward and re-dedicate ourselves to those children whose rights are not being respected and protected…often the most marginalised, sometimes even invisible by not being counted but definitely the most vulnerable members of our societies. Let all of us unite for children. All rights for all children!"


For more information, please check UNICEF in Uzbekistan Facebook page and go to:

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UNICEF is the driving force that helps build a world where the rights of every child are realized. We have the global authority to influence decision-makers, and the variety of partners at grassroots level to turn the most innovative ideas into reality. That makes us unique among world organizations, and unique among those working with the young.

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