As part of the Guardian interactive article for the 25th anniversary of UN convention on the rights of the child, we asked children across the country what rights were most important to them. Presented with a child-friendly version of the convention, this is what they had to say.
For the International Women’s Day celebration we selectively pictured the girls.
Interactive Gallery, click on each image to enlarge and read story.
Asma Musa is an eighth grade student in Semera Girls Boarding School Afar, Ethiopia. She is 16 years old. To fulfil the right of the child to education will protect us from any form of child labour. The right of everyone to education, one can develop his/her potential if and only if education is available and accessible. In other words, children can contribute for our family and country a lot if education is available and accessible for them. There is ignorance in our society mainly on the importance of girls’ education. And I would like to advise adults, children have set of rights that everyone needs to respect through continuous awareness raising stages. For example, “Child marriage should stop now.” I like to see all pastoralist children mainly girls have access to, and complete primary education of good quality.
Mestewat Tolera, 15 , Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As children are the future of the country, their rights should be valued. Children should have access to education whether they are in rural or urban areas. The part of the convention that means the most to me is the part that says we should have equal education regardless of gender and ethnicity. And equal human rights, like living rights and moving from place to place. My message is that parents or adults should not tell me to keep silent when adults are speaking; I should be part of their conversation, and they should value my opinions equally.
Nyajuok Tot Mut, 16, Gambella, Ethiopia Children rights are important for us girls in Tierkidi camp because special rights for children protect us from sexual abuse and we will not be married to older men. We will not be taken out of school to marry because we are getting knowledge. The article on sexual abuse and protection from exploitation, these are articles 34, which talks about sexual exploitation and article 36 talks about protection from bad treatment by big people. Also article 19 is about protection from violence, abuse and neglect prevention. These are all very good for us girls. My Mother and my Father consider my opinion. for example if she wants to buy me clothes, she asks me which type of clothes I want first. Only that we do not have enough money to get all what we want but my views are taken into account. I expect all children to grow up and become a volunteer tutor like me. Even though I have not completed my education, but I can help the younger ones
Hikma Jamal Ali, 12 Somali, Ethiopia. To learn my education, to protect my right and safety. Article 26 “Government must provide extra money for the children of family in need” I have a neighbour friends of poor family, their father has passed away and their mother has nothing, they cannot go to school that I am going to and they are not happy. On our holy day (EID Al-Fatir), they were crying for the mother to buy clothes for them but she can’t afford it, and my mother gives her money to buy clothes to them. They are a children like me, so if the Government continue supporting this children of poor family, they can learn and change their life, their family life and will be asset to our country. My views are not ignored but sometimes in schools my teacher do ignore my view. What My teacher always come with his note book and let us read only once and he will take it back. But I wish I could have that note. When I ask, he will not let me explain why I need it but just say NO. My future looks bright and educated lady, I wish I can be a doctor helping female of Ethiopia those who don’t want to show their body to men’s and I also wish to help poor children in future. I wish there will be opportunity for me and children in my area to have a historical place visit in different part of our country.
Yalemwork Nibrete, 15, Grade 8 Amhara, Ethiopia. To protect children from work load, other form of abuses, to help children learn and develop their potential Article 21 Best interest of the child must be top priority in all things that affect children I wish that all children protected from harmful traditional practice and violence.
Bizunesh Ejersa, 13, Grade 8 student at Dima primary school, Sebeta, Oromia Ethiopia “Children may not know their rights. Since they are the futures of the country, they need to grow freely. ‘’ ‘’The right for education is the most important to me. If children are educated today, they will be useful citizens for their family and country tomorrow’’ “Yes, repeatedly. What I would like to tell adults is, instead of ignoring children’s’ ideas they need to listen to children, accept their views and do what is good, so that they can be good citizens who will be leading the country in the future’’ ‘’I wish, all the community members have the awareness about the rights of children, including those disabled children that are not going to school, and all children growing freely with their all rights respected’’ “What I would like to add is, there is a misunderstanding in the community and girls are undermined, they think sending girls to school is of no use. But, without the involvement of girls/women, there will not be a complete development, like in marriage, the marriage will be incomplete without women. Therefore, I think the community need to change their mind and send girls to school.”
Nyabel Bith Gath, Gambella, Ethiopia Children will gain knowledge in school and become good people. We are always thinking about our relatives left behind in south Sudan, so the article on family “togetherness” is good. We as girls have the right to play because we do most of the hard work at home. So, article 28 about good education and articles 9 and 10 talking about separation from parents living together with parents are very important for me and my other families in Tierkidi camp. In the future all of us will be in school again and “follow” our classes, the war will be over and there will be no discrimination.
Amina Mohammed is an eighth grade student in Semera Girls Boarding School Afar, Ethiopia. She is 16 years old. To fulfil the right of the child to education and protect them from any Harmful Traditional Practices that hinders to complete primary education. The right of the child to be protected from FGM/C, Abduction and Child Marriage. The reason is all these practices have long lasting impact on a child’s life. Since Abduction, FGM/C and child marriage are painful, the gov’t should take administrative measures to ensure these rights. A number of adults ignored me on the abandonment of FGM/C and Child Marriage. I would like to tell them “stop FGM/C, Abduction and Child Marriage.” I like to see all pastoralist children mainly girls have access to, and complete primary education of good quality and contribute for the development of their region and country. Education is the only means to ensure the right of the child to be protected. So, I encourage children to work hard in their education.
Kidist Zelalem, 14, Grade 8 Amhara, Ethiopia. Children need special right because they are the builder of the future generation and they can’t protect themselves the right. It helps to bring the perpetuator to the attention the law. Article 42 Governments should make the convention known to the children and adults I wish to see girl children living in rural area protected from child marriage and violence, fully exercise their rights and get access to education.