13 Children’s Rights That Still Aren’t Universal—But Should Be
Children—typically defined as people under the age of 18—are among the most vulnerable members of society, but aren’t always afforded basic protections and human rights.
Right to bodily autonomy
Given that children have a limited capacity to consent to medical procedures, it is especially dangerous when the procedures are harmful. This is the case with female genital mutilation, which is still practiced in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. In fact, FGM is nearly universal in Somalia, Reuters reports. According to the World Health Organization, more than 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone genital cutting. These are 16 unavoidable facts about domestic violence you need to know.
Right to education
Getting an education is a fundamental part of childhood, but for many kids around the world, it’s not a possibility. In Yemen, for example, 2 million children are out of school, while an additional 3.7 million are at risk for dropping out, according to UNICEF. “Conflict, underdevelopment, and poverty have deprived millions of children in Yemen of their right to education—and of their hope for a brighter future. Violence, displacement, and attacks on schools are preventing many children from accessing school. With teacher salaries going unpaid for over two years, education quality is also at stake,” Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UNICEF Representative in Yemen said in a statement. Find out what everyone gets wrong about being homeless.
Right to a habitable environment
Though different parts of the world have their own environmental challenges, climate change affects those all over the globe. This was the idea behind 16 children—including Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist—filing a landmark complaint to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The petitioners argue that UN Member States’ failure to tackle the climate crisis in a timely manner constitutes a violation of child rights. Want to help make a difference? Here are 20 tiny everyday changes you can make to help the environment.
Right to safe housing
All children should be able to grow up in a home where they feel safe and secure. This is a problem in many parts of the world, including Iran, where there are an estimated 200,000 children living on the streets—around half of which are Afghani migrants, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran. They are particularly vulnerable to physical abuse, sexual abuse, human trafficking, and infectious diseases. Discover ways you can help children in foster care without becoming a foster parent.