On November 20, 2023, the Marist Foundation for International Solidarity ETS (FMSI), together with the Secretariat of Solidarity the Marist Brothers Institute, organized an event to celebrate the World Day for Children’s Rights. The initiative “Right to be children – Derecho a ser niños” was a unique opportunity to reflect deeply on the rights of children on the anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly’s declaration on November 20, 1959, and the significant concluding agreement on the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

The event highlighted the importance of addressing global challenges that unfortunately continue to disproportionately affect children and young people, who are forced to face war, poverty, climate change, violence, and racism more severely. These issues, along with many others, make it imperative to act in defense of their rights.

Fr. Fortune Chakasara, a Brother of the Marist Province of South Africa and a Board Member of FMSI, addressed the issue of children’s rights in Africa, emphasizing the need to fully understand the diversity and complexity of the context to make rights protection actions more effective. Fr. Fortune highlighted how, in some African cultures, children are often ‘seen but not heard,’ underscoring how the perspectives and opinions of the young are often overlooked.

Maria D’Onofrio, Secretary-General of CCIG (International Catholic Centre of Geneva), focused her intervention on the importance of defending the cause of children’s rights internationally. She emphasized the power of civil society in enhancing the protection of children at the United Nations, highlighting the importance of addressing social tensions and abuses against children from the roots. She also discussed collaborative work with FMSI and the Solidarity Secretariat in Bolivia, Papua New Guinea, and Bangladesh.

To celebrate its fifteenth anniversary in 2022, FMSI established the “A Better World for Children” award to support an innovative and inclusive project for children each year with a contribution of 5,000 euros. The theme of the 2023 Award is the defense of children’s rights with the participation of children. At the end of the event, the award was presented to Dr. Alessandra Aula, Secretary-General of BICE (Bureau International Catholique de l’Enfance), for a project implemented by the Organization Dignité et Droits pour les Enfants en Côte d’Ivoire (DDE-CI) in the country. The winning project raises awareness of civil rights in high schools in Abidjan, involving young students as promoters of mutual respect, while simultaneously aiming to reintegrate young people into society by providing them with psychological and educational support.

The event “Right to be children – Derecho a ser niños” resonated globally with more than 200 participants from 49 countries, demonstrating the commitment of the Marist Institute, the Marist Foundation for International Solidarity ETS (FMSI), and the Solidarity Secretariat to improving access to rights and living conditions for children worldwide.

In 2023, FMSI and the Secretariat of Solidarity collaborated on activities to raise awareness of the importance of human rights, especially for those in vulnerable conditions.

Click here to download our booklet “Right to be children – report 2023 on Children’s Rights” and see what we have done during last year!