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On The Day of the African Child, UNICEF highlights the importance of child participation


NEW YORK, June 2008 - UNICEF today drew attention to the importance of child participation in schools, community action, media, and governance, highlighting in particular the importance of the 4th Junior 8 Summit in Japan next month that will give young people the opportunity to share their views directly with world leaders gathered for the G8.

Today marks “The day of the African Child,” which this year is dedicated to the Right to Participate: Let Children be seen and Heard.

Global interest in the active involvement of children and youth in schools, community action, media and governance has grown over the past decade or so and this has been stimulated by a recognition of children’s and youth citizenship and their rights.

At the J8 many of the themes at the top of the G8 agenda, such as global warming, global health issues, such as HIV/AIDS, and development in Africa will also be discussed. All these issues affect children acutely; clearly the direct involvement of children is critical.

Young people from G8 countries and the developing world will open the fourth annual J8 Summit in Chitose City, Japan on 2 July and they will then have the opportunity to share their views directly with the world’s leaders when the G8 convenes in the Japanese mountain resort of Toyako on 7 July.

Decisions concerning global issues taken by the leaders of the world’s major industrialized nations will have a huge impact on children’s lives throughout the world. Children have a unique perspective on all the issues that will be discussed at the G8 and will have to live with the decisions made by today’s leaders, so it is vital that those leaders take the views of children into account.

Thirty-nine young people representing the G8 countries and the developing world will come together for the week-long forum to debate three main themes: climate change and global warming; child survival, infectious diseases and HIV/AIDS; and poverty and development, with a particular focus on Africa.

The participants include teams of four young people aged 13-17 from each of the G8 member countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, UK and USA. An additional seven J8 delegates from developing countries, including from Africa - representing regions throughout the world were selected to participate by UNICEF staff based on their involvement in projects and programmes related to the main themes of the G8 Summit.

All of the J8 participants will travel to Japan for the opening of the G8, eight of whom will be selected to present their views to world leaders gathered for the Summit.

Next month’s J8 and G8 Summits, which both have a focus on Africa, follow soon after UNICEF called for large-scale, focused investments in improved health systems for sub-Saharan Africa, to capitalize on recent achievements and help children who have inadequate access to health care.

UNICEF made the call as it launched its first The State of Africa’s Children 2008 report on 28 May at the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV).

The Day of the African Child is celebrated on June 16 in recognition of the day when, in 1976, thousands of black school children in Soweto, South Africa, took to the streets to protest the inferior quality of their education and to demand their right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of young boys and girls were shot; and in the two weeks of protest that followed, more than 100 people were killed and more than 1,000 were injured.


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