Things to know about Universal Children’s Day


When is Universal Children’s Day celebrated?

The United Nations’ (UN) Universal Children’s Day, which was established in 1954, is celebrated on November 20 each year 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, though it was later named Flower Sunday, and then named Children’s Day.

When did the govt. declare this day a national holiday?

The Republic of Turkey first officially declared Children’s Day a national holiday in 1920 with the set date of April 23. Since then people celebrate Children’s Day nationally with the Turkish government and the newspapers of the time declaring it a day for the children. However, the government decided that they needed an official confirmation to clarify and justify this celebration. So, the founder and the president of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk made the official declaration nationally in 1929.

Though the UN 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.

What were the rights given to a child on this day?

Originally acquired in 1924 by the League of Nations, the UN adopted this document as its own statement of children’s rights. 

The original text reads as follows:

  • People should give the child the means requisite for its normal development, both materially and spiritually
  • They should feed a child that is hungry. They should also nurse the child that is sick. Along with that, they should help the child that is backward. The people should reclaim the delinquent child, and shelter and succor the orphan and the waif.
  • The child must be the first to receive relief in times of distress.
  • The child must be there in a position to earn a livelihood and people should protect them against every form of exploitation.
  • People should bring up the child in the consciousness that its talents will be in service of its fellow men.

For the expanded version, the UN adopted 10 additional principles with an accompanying 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 of the Rights of the Child. The CRC is a human rights treaty setting out the civil, political, economic, social, health, and cultural rights of children. The document deals with child-specific needs and rights that require all nations that ratify it to bind it by international law and must act within the best interests of the child.

What were the goals of Universal Children’s Day?

In September 2012, the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations led the initiative for the education of children. 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 policies regarding education to promote peace, respect, and environmental concern. 

What is the significance of this day?

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. People use children as laborers in some countries, immersed in armed conflict, living on the streets, suffering from differences be it religion, minority issues, or disabilities. Currently, there are about 153 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 whom people force into child labor.

What is the theme of Universal Children’s Day 2021?

The theme this year by UNICEF is to help children to recover from interruptions and learning losses experienced through the pandemic in the last two years.

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