Children’s Day is recognised on various days in many places around the world, to honour children globally. International Children’s Day on June 1st was first proclaimed by the World Conference for the Well-being of Children, Switzerland, in 1925 and then established universally in 1954 to protect an “appropriate” day. It is usually marked with speeches on children’s rights and wellbeing, and other events involving or dedicated to children.
International Day for Protection of Children, observed in many countries as Children’s Day on June 1 since 1950, was established by the Women’s International Democratic Federation on its congress in Moscow (22 November 1949).
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (Children’s Day) is the largest national day to celebrate our children. Children’s Day is celebrated across Australia each year on 4 August.
Children’s Day is a time to for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to celebrate the strengths and culture of their children. The day is an opportunity for all Australians to show their support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, as well as learn about the crucial impact that culture, family and community play in the life of every child.
Until 1977 Child Care Week was held in various Australian states and territories focusing on children in care or those in institutions. It was held at different times. In 1985 it was decided to coordinate a national week to include all children. Children’s Week is an annual event celebrated in Australia during the fourth week in October, from the Saturday before Universal Children’s Day to the following Sunday.
Universal Children’s Day falls on 20 November. It was established by the United Nations in 1954 and aims to promote the welfare of children around the world.
Pope Francis began his “Urbi et Orbi” – to the city and the world – address by appealing to Christians around the world to “recognise Christ in the faces of little children” in places of conflict and tension “as the winds of war are blowing in our world and an outdated model of development continues to produce human, societal and environmental decline”.
His traditional Christmas Day message listed many of the globe’s most troubled places.
He said: “We see Jesus in the faces of Syrian children still marked by the war that, in these years, has caused such bloodshed in that country. May beloved Syria at last recover respect for the dignity of every person through a shared commitment to rebuild the fabric of society, without regard for ethnic and religious membership.”
He spoke of the children of Iraq, that has experienced conflict for the past 15 years, and Yemen, “where there is an ongoing conflict that has been largely forgotten, with serious humanitarian implications for its people, who suffer from hunger and the spread of diseases”.
He also mentioned the suffering of children in South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic and Nigeria.
Moving to other regions of the world, he prayed for tensions on the Korean peninsula to be overcome “and that mutual trust may increase in the interest of the world as a whole”. He called for “serene dialogue” in Venezuela and an end to conflict in Ukraine.
The pope also spoke of children he met on his recent visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh, saying: “It is my hope that the international community will not cease to work to ensure that the dignity of the minority groups present in the region is adequately protected.”
Francis also referred to social and economic injustice, themes that he has focused on since becoming pope almost five years ago. He spoke of “the children of unemployed parents who struggle to offer their children a secure and peaceful future. And in those whose childhood has been robbed and who, from a very young age, have been forced to work or to be enrolled as soldiers by unscrupulous mercenaries”.
He prayed for refugees, another familiar cause espoused by the Pope, referring the “many children forced to leave their countries to travel alone in inhuman conditions and who become an easy target for human traffickers. Through their eyes we see the drama of all those forced to emigrate and risk their lives to face exhausting journeys that end at times in tragedy”.