By Sarah Morris, UNICEF NZ International Advocacy Manager
The slogan for this year’s Human Rights Day is Human Rights 365. The idea is that every day is Human Rights Day. The reality of course is that for many, every day is a constant struggle filled with challenges and obstacles to overcome.
Whether it is the little girl living in a refugee camp in Lebanon who wishes she could be back home in Syria or the little boy from South Auckland who wishes his mum had more money for breakfast and new shoes that don’t let the rain in… children are missing out 365 days of the year.
The New Zealand Government will report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in May. Ahead of this, there is some important work being carried out to respond to some of the recommendations that came from the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2011.
A number of recommendations that came out of the Universal Periodic Review centred on the need for Government to do more to uphold the rights of vulnerable children and address child poverty. The Vulnerable Children’s Action Plan includes a strong focus on workforce development and we are pleased that this work will include a focus on child rights.
The Prime Minister has said that child poverty will be a priority for this term of Government. UNICEF’s international research centre has concluded that Government policy has the single biggest impact on child poverty. So we encourage a relentless and coordinated approach to solving poverty, underpinned by a plan, focused on young children, those in sole parent homes, those reliant on benefits, and Maori and Pasifika children.
Yesterday I arrived in Manila, the Philippines, a day or two ahead of Typhoon Hagupit (known locally as Ruby). Looking out to sea from UNICEF’s office on the 30th floor of RCBC Plaza, there’s no sign yet of the typhoon. There’s even a narrow band of sunlight on the horizon. But everyone knows that it’s coming.
By Rosangela Berman-Bieler. Rosangela is a quadriplegic and serves as Chief of UNICEF’s Disability Section, part of Gender, Rights and Civic Engagement, Programme Division, in New York.
Children in Serbia use assistive technology to do their homework. (c) UNICEF/2011/Kate Holt
December 3 is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a day when the talents, contributions and abilities of people with disabilities are celebrated globally. The goal is to promote greater understanding of the rights of persons with disabilities and to mobilize support for building a more inclusive society.
The theme this year is Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology. Thanks to ever-increasing access to technology, people are more connected to each other and can utilize services and information that might previously have been beyond their reach.
With over 1 billion people worldwide living with a disability, technology can both enable and hinder their participation in society. For example, technology that is not accessible can prevent people with disabilities from accessing information and joining in forums and conversations, making them further marginalised. But technology that is harnessed to promote inclusion and accessibility can help realize the full and equal participation of children and adults with disabilities. Technology can be a tool for fulfilling rights and changing lives.
Thirteen-month-old Alex is a lively and mischievous baby boy, the very life of his local health centre in Mbeya city. His mother, Monica, looks at him with a broad and hopeful smile.
“I found out I was HIV-positive when I took the test for the first time. I was six-months pregnant,” recalls 27-year-old Monica. “I felt like the whole world around me was falling apart. I had heard about HIV before, but I didn’t really know what it was. I heard people say that it’s a bad disease, that it kills people. I even remember neighbours pointing fingers at a woman they said had gotten AIDS because she had been unfaithful. I could never imagine I would one day be in the same situation.”
In Mbeya City, in southern Tanzania, 13-month-old Alex is a ‘miracle baby’ to his mother, who found out she was HIV-positive when she was six-months pregnant. Thanks to effective delivery of PMTCT interventions, Alex tested negative one month ago. Credit: UNICEF Tanzania/2014/Bisin
Through training male champions to encourage men to be part of the health of their partners and children, the investment of this innovative approach to health care breaks down to just fifty cents a father.
Despite progress in bringing HIV testing and treatment to the most affected communities in Africa, stigma has been a significant hurdle for mothers who need to be tested and enrolled in prevention of mother to child transmission programmes.