CHILDREN’S Day was first proclaimed by the World Conference for the Well-being of Children in 1925, although no specific date was designated.
Since 1950 the International Day for Protection of Children has been observed in many countries as Children’s Day on June 1, the date established by the Women’s International Democratic Federation on its congress in Moscow in November 1949.
In 1954 Universal Children’s Day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, to take place annually on November 20. It was established to encourage all countries to institute a day, firstly to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children and secondly to initiate action to benefit and promote the welfare of the world’s children.
Universal Children’s Day is not simply a day to celebrate children for who they are, but to bring awareness of children around the globe that have succumbed to violence in forms of abuse, exploitation and discrimination.
Currently there are about 153 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 who are forced into child labour.
Children caught up in armed conflict may be recruited as child soldiers, killed or maimed, displaced and suffer physical and psychological trauma.
Throughout the world there are children living on the streets, deprived of education, forced into prostitution, physically and mentally abused, going hungry.
The officially recognised date of Children’s Day varies from country to country. While the internationally recognised days are favoured by most countries – June 1 is celebrated in more than 40 counties, while another 23 plus most of the Arab world, acknowledge November 20 – many countries have their own dates for Children’s Day. These range from the first Friday in January (Bahamas) to the last Friday in December (Dominica).
The United States of America marks Children’s Day on the second Sunday in June, while the United Kingdom – late to jump on the bandwagon – celebrated it for the first time on Wednesday, May 15, 2012.
South Africa, while recognising November 20, also holds its own Children’s Day on the first Saturday in November.