“A country without educated girls, is like a river without a source”
Antonina grew up in a community in Kenya where gender inequality is pervasive in all walks of life. Many girls are denied an education, do not have access to sanitary towels and fall pregnant very early. Antonina decided to advocate for the rights of girls in her community. She became an active member of her county’s children assembly forum and started raising her voice for girls’ rights, using the Sustainable Development Goals Post 2015 to convince leaders to be more supportive. She has advocated at both national and international level, participating in the Commission on the Status of Women in New York in 2015, to speak about the rights of girls. Antonina will not stop raising her voice until everyone, irrespective of their age, gender or social status, has equal opportunities.
“Children and youth are the hope for a more humanitarian, equitable and fair present and future. Do not let the pain we feel for children’s suffering stop; because if it does, we will stop working for a happier childhood”
Jimena was born in Guatemala to parents who were still teenagers themselves. Her own childhood made her realize how difficult it is to raise a family, study and work at the same time. She started organizing educational programs in her community at the age of seven, called Escuelita para Aprender Jugando, (School for Learning through Play). Jimena works hard to improve girls’ lives, with a focus on violence and sexual abuse. She has raised awareness on gender issues and mobilized local authorities and parents to improve the community’s approach to girls and women. Jimena never stops, and through her community volunteer work she has changed the lives of countless children.
“When children’s rights are respected, the nation has a future”
Cameroon, 16. Issue : Education, Health, Gender Equality.
Sharon, from Cameroon, is passionate about defending the rights of children. During the 25th anniversary of The Convention on the Rights of the Child, she gave a presentation urging stakeholders to promote children’s rights – such as education and health – by providing scholarships and other educational support. She is a member of the community forum in her village, where she supports and represents the children in her community. She is also a member of Girls at the Front Club, which specifically advocates girls’ rights. Sharon’s instinct for activism makes her an inspiration to many. In the future she wants to advocate for children’s rights by making more presentations and becoming active in a variety of forums.
“Growing up in a safe and harmonious environment is a right for all children of the world. Our education is key to our growth and our future”
Niger, Age 18. Issue: Violence, Child Marriage Nominated by “Association des anciensparlementaires du Niger”.
Adama advocates for the rights of children in her community in Niger. She has brought local children together in awareness sessions about corporal punishment and discrimination, resulting in a ban on corporal punishment in her school and in the community. Through her tireless advocacy, Adama’s community appreciates that education is essential if their children’s futures are to be brighter. She took part in an international meeting against child marriage in West Africa, urging Niger’s government to respect the African Charter on Child Rights. And in the future, Adama wants to create more safe spaces where children can discuss education, health and other aspects of their lives.
“Dare to dream. Be courageous to win the struggle of life”
Bangladesh, 17. Issue: Child Marriage, Education, Violence. Nominated by: Plan International Bangladesh.
Shirin comes from an underprivileged background in Bangladesh and lost her parents at a young age. Despite her difficult childhood, Shirin keeps her dreams alive by continuing to go to school, and impressing the importance of education on other children around her. Shirin is chairman of the Union Child Forum, a children’s organization in her village. She is also what is known as a “wedding buster” – someone who prevents child marriages – and is personally responsible for preventing 17 child marriages in her village. She motivates the children in her community to take action to make things better. She counsels girls on the consequences of child marriage and has persuaded many victims of domestic violence to seek legal support. Shirin embodies the idea that girls can do anything they put their minds to.
“We want to make and build a better world for every child. I request people from all over the world: Let’s change our mind and work together for the well-being of children”
Bangladesh, 17. Issue: Violence, Child Marriage, Education, Child Labor, Child Trafficking Nominated by “World Vision Bangladesh”.
Sujon lives in Bangladesh and does everything he can to prevent child marriage and violence against children. He has written letters to official institutions about child marriages and school dropouts. He has raised money and collected school supplies in order to help poor children to continue with their studies. He has also taken a creative approach to awareness raising, making posters and banners about addiction, about harassment of women on the street, and about the importance of children’s rights in combating child labor and trafficking. Sujon’s actions have changed his community, increasing the village’s knowledge and awareness of these difficult topics. In the future he wants to keep on fighting for the rights of children.