2023-11-29 GENERAL HOUSE

The right to be a child: Marists celebrate the World Day for the Rights of Children and Adolescents

On Nov. 20, 2023, the Marist Foundation for International Solidarity (FMSI), together with the Secretariat of Solidarity of the Marist Brothers Institute, held the event to celebrate the World Day for the Rights of Children and Adolescents. The “Right to be a children – Derecho a ser niños” initiative was a unique opportunity to reflect in depth on the rights of children on the anniversary of the November 20, 1959 United Nations General Assembly Declaration and the important concluding agreement on the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The goal of the event was to share knowledge and experiences, reflecting on future actions within the Marists of Champagnat. Br. Ernesto Sánchez, Superior General, along with Br. Ken McDonald, President of FMSI and General Councillor, welcomed present and on-line participants.

During the event, it was highlighted how important it is to address the global challenges that, unfortunately, continue to most severely affect children, girls and young people, who are forced to deal with war, poverty, climate change, violence and racism. These issues – and many others that are being added – make it peremptory to act in defense of their rights.

Addresses

Br. Fortune Chakasara, Brother of the Marist Province of Southern Africa and FMSI Board Advisor, addressed the issue of children’s rights in Africa, highlighting the need to fully understand the diversity and complexity of the context so as to make actions in protection of rights more effective. Br. Fortune pointed out how, in some African cultures, children are often ‘seen but not heard’, highlighting how the perspectives and opinions of the youngest are often overlooked.

Maria D’Onofrio, Secretary General of International Catholic Center of Geneva (CCIG) focused her remarks on the importance of championing the cause of children’s rights at the international level. She emphasized the power of civil society in enhancing the protection of children and girls at the United Nations, highlighting the importance of addressing social tensions and abuse of children and girls from the roots up. She then dwelt on the joint work with FMSI and the Secretariat of Solidarity in Bolivia, Papua New Guinea and Bangladesh.

“A Better World for Children” award

To celebrate its 15th anniversary, FMSI, in 2022, established the “A Better World for Children” award to support an innovative and inclusive project aimed at children each year through a contribution of 5,000 euros. The theme of the 2023 Award is advocacy for children’s rights with the participation of children. At the end of the event, the award was presented to Dr. Alessandra Aula, Secretary General of Bureau International Catholique de l’Enfance (BICE) for a project that the Organization Dignité et Droits pour les Enfants en Côte d’Ivoire (DDE-CI) is implementing in the country. The award-winning project raises awareness about respect for civil rights in Abidjan’s high schools, involving young students as promoters of mutual respect, while aiming to reintegrate young people into society by providing psychological and educational support.

The “Right to be children – Derecho a ser niños” event resonated globally with more than 200 participants from 49 countries. It testifies to the commitment of the Marist Institute, the Marist Foundation for International Solidarity and the Secretariat of Solidarity to improve access to the rights and living conditions of children around the world.

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