Reimagining a better future

23 November 2021 | Youth

Jeanette Diergaardt



Unicef celebrates 75 years of existence on World Children’s Day

On 20 November, the world celebrated World Children’s Day under the theme ‘reimagining the future’.



This year, the world went blue for World Children’s Day. The Covid-19 pandemic had a tremendous impact globally in different spheres, and therefore, the main themes up for discussion during this event were the problems and disparities brought forth because of the pandemic that are directly impacting the rights and livelihoods of children.

Through the World Children’s Day celebrations, the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) aims to engage young people worldwide, making it ‘a day for children by children’ by focusing on children’s rights worldwide.

To raise awareness to the voices and problems of children, the public at large was encouraged to wear blue on the 20 November. In order to amplify the voices of children, media houses and corporate companies were invited to participate by means of having children as media personalities. This year, Unicef will be celebrating 75 years of dedication to the world and the communities it serves in. Corporates and institutions were encouraged to light their buildings blue in support of the celebrations.

The goals of this year’s celebration are to:

1. Create engagement opportunities for children to tell their stories and participate in the decision-making process of a country.

2. To reach a wide audience globally by engaging individuals, governments corporations in Namibia to support and take action when it comes to children’s rights.

What we can do:

Governments around the world were encouraged to focus on the following themes: Vaccinations for all, revolutionising education, shining a light on discrimination of any type that affects children, actively prioritising the mental health of children and lastly addressing the global climate crisis.

A Namibian perspective

According to child psychologist Jessé Strauss, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of children she consulted increased. “Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of mental health in children,” she said.

Vaccination

Children from the ages of 12 to 17 are now eligible to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine roll-out will take place in phases, given that children must receive consent from their parents. This information was shared during the latest Covid-19 public briefing that took place on 12 November.

Discrimination

Unicef, in partnership with the education ministry, has developed a framework called Namibia’s National Safe School Framework to ensure that learners everywhere are provided with a safe environment to learn.

Revolutionising learning

Namibia Media Holdings, in main partnership with the ministry of education and Unicef, launched the educational booklet project in 2020 with the advent of the pandemic. The booklets are distributed countrywide. Complementing the booklets are online lessons for the tech-savvy learners at home.

The following events led up to World Children’s Day:

Monday, 15 November:

150 children marched the streets of Katima Mulilo to hand over a communique that highlights motions agreed upon during children’s parliament sessions held on 19 July. The special parliament session was held to give children the opportunity to share their voices on how to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in Namibia and what steps need to be taken. A total of 66 motions was tabled, and the majority were on quality education.

Tuesday, 16 November:

U-Report Activation: Unicef hosted a group of 50 young people in the Zambezi Region. The u-report aims to find out the main issues young people are faced with and is a collection of messages from youngsters all over the world. The activation took place digitally this year. The young people who participated shared their innovative ideas, and how they responded positively during challenging time.

Saturday, 20 November:

The main event took place in Botswana at the Kazangula Bridge that sits at the border of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia. The bridge directly links Zambia and Botswana. During the event, panellists from the four countries joined their presidents - Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana, Hage Geingob of Namibia, Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe and Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia - to partake in a panel discussion that outlines the needs of children in their respective countries.

“I am in touch with young people. I brought one here not just to talk, but to demonstrate… I hold them and I work with them to advise me,” said Geingob.

The panellist from Namibia, Rivaldo Kavanga, highlighted the steps taken by Namibia to be a step closer to achieving the SDGs. One of the milestones Namibia achieved is free pre-primary and primary school education, he highlighted. He further underlined the unequal treatment of children with disabilities around the world. “We continue to treat them as if they are not a part of our community,” he said.

Light up blue

In celebration of Unicef’s 75 years, the Kazangula bridge was lit up blue, and Namibia joined in on the celebration by lighting up the United Nations Delegations house blue in the capital city, Windhoek; joining cities worldwide like Auckland, Amman, New York and Nairobi.

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