Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) will mark its 30th anniversary in 2019.

As one of the most ratified human rights treaties in history, the CRC has played a significant and vital role in both defining and upholding the rights of children. It ensures we value children’s lives now, not only their adult futures.

The CRC has also resulted in the implementation of child protection policies and legislation in almost all developing countries.

However, progress has been uneven, and the rights of many millions of children continue to be violated.

This year there will also be a renewed focus on how we uphold every child’s right to live free from violence and exploitation, with the United Nations undertaking its first review of SDG 16.2.

As the world shines a spotlight on children’s rights in 2019, ChildFund Australia will be a prominent voice on the importance of childhood for all children  ̶  a childhood where children are nurtured, protected and have opportunities to reach their full potential.

We know childhood has a deadline and we must do all in our power to be a champion for children.

In 2019, we will speak up for childhoods.

The right to be nurtured

Too many children face extreme disadvantage from their earliest years.

They are born in unsafe conditions, lacking proper nutrition, safe water and healthcare.

Giving parents access to basic necessities, as well as the tools and knowledge they need to raise healthy, resilient children, increases a child’s chance of survival dramatically.

Every child should have a childhood where they feel cared for, encouraged and valued.

ChildFund believes every child has the right to live in a nurturing environment. We must do all in our power to ensure that every child can survive and thrive.

We want every child to be able to say: “I have a future.”

ChildFund implements programs that prioritise health and wellbeing, and build children’s resilience, working with their families and communities to ensure their basic human rights are safeguarded and upheld.

Education is one of our strongest tools to end child poverty. Meet Ma Nwe, a former child labourer who is now on the road to success, receiving the education she deserves.

Below we explain Ma Nwe’s experiences as a child labourer and how education has helped her learn the skills to follow her dreams.

 

From child labourer to dressmaker

 

Ma Nwe has a big smile as she admires her new sewing machine. It’s a fine-looking Singer with a shiny gold and black body.

For the 20-year-old dressmaking student (pictured above) the machine represents a new beginning. For the first time in a long time the future looks good. Really good.

A new life, and a new home for her mum and sisters, Ma Nwe imagines. And, one day, a tailor shop for herself.

How different things are now, compared to just a few months ago when she was working seven days a week at a manufacturing factory, checking the quality of drinking flasks, day in, day out.

It had been her job for the past seven years, since she was 13 years old.

 

Leaving school to earn an income

 

At the age of nine, Ma Nwe dropped out of school to help look after her two younger sisters so her parents could go to work. When their father died she was forced to go to work to make up for the family’s loss of income.

She worked 70-hour weeks, earning an equivalent of about US$60, at the manufacturing factory, and only had one day off a month. All her earnings went to her mother to keep the family afloat.

“If I continued working there, I think nothing would have changed in my life because my earnings were just spent on food,” Ma Nwe says.