India’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Children (UNCRC) in 1992 established the nation’s formal declaration of its child rights policy. Since then, India has made considerable progress in its corrective measures to address child labour, abuse, neglect, and malnutrition. Many individuals and corporations today donate to NGO fundraising to participate in this movement for change. However, India needs to undertake aggressive steps to address the lakhs of children under the age of 5 that are lost to preventable health issues, and the nation’s high incidence of child labour.
The following child rights therefore must be understood and acknowledged by a variety of stakeholders.
What are child rights?
As per the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Children, all children are born with fundamental rights. Child rights transcend just human rights, which were instituted for fair and proper treatment of people across the world, and promote their well-being. Children, defined as any individual under the age of 18, need more than just human rights due to their needs. Child rights, in their contemporary form, stem from the work of Eglantyne Jebb, founder of Save the Children, in her iconic 1923 document, Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which was adopted by the United Nations. Jebb pioneered the cause of children’s rights after witnessing the suffering of children after World War I. This led her to write the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which is now the basis of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
Further, the rights as described in the Convention have been summarised into the following fundamentals with references to various articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
1. The Right To An Identity (Articles 7 And 8)
2. The Right To Health (Articles 23 And 24)
3. The Right To Education, (Article 28)
4. The Right To A Family Life (Articles 8, 9, 10, 16, 20, 22 And 40)
5. The Right To Be Protected From Violence (Article 19 And 34)
6. The Right To An Opinion (Article 12 And 13)
7. The Right To Be Protected From Armed Conflict (Articles 38 And 39)
8. The Right To Be Protected From Exploitation (Articles 19, 32, 34, 36 And 39)
The Indian Constitution, promulgated in 1950, includes many of the rights included in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy. The government can undertake appropriate legislative and administrative measures to ensure that children’s rights are met. However, these are still essentially directives, that have enabled the judiciary to issue landmark judgements promoting children’s rights, leading to Constitutional Amendments. These include making the Right to Education a fundamental right.
Child rights NGO Save the Children’s association with India was forged with Mahatma Gandhi’s signature on Eglantyne Jebb ‘Declaration of the Rights of the Child’ in 1931. The vison of Egglantyne Jebb, of ensuring that no child anywhere in the world exposed to hunger or hardship, is becoming a reality. Save the Children, India’s leading independent child rights organization is working to provide access to education, nutrition, healthcare, and emergency relief, as well infrastructure for equal opportunities to lakhs of Indian children across India since 2008. The organisation engages in on-ground action, campaigning and advocacy, and policy influence. Today, lakhs of Indians donate online to fight against the evils that stand to harm children. This is just one of the many ways they contribute to ensuring Child rights are met, upheld, and defended across India.