It's easy just to focus on how the rights of the most vulnerable were abused and denied - but that's not the whole story.
Looking back at 2018, it could be easy to focus on the many ways the rights of the most vulnerable were further abused and denied, especially as whenever, and wherever, in the world there was intolerance, division and conflict, it was marginalised children who faced the harshest consequences.
But this is not the whole story, and not the one we want to start the new year remembering. Behind the headlines, out of the spotlight and in every community across the world, there remain powerful human rights activists working tirelessly to build a better world. At the 100 Million campaign, 2018 was full of their stories of resistance, progress and people-power, and so, here are 5 reasons we are leaving 2018 with more hope than we started with:
100 Million campaign grows and grows
2018 saw a huge growth in the number of countries participating in the 100 Million campaign, demonstrating the breadth of support for building a world where all children are free, safe and educated. The first official campaign launches of the year were held in Togo and Ghana, and an Africa regional steering committee with representatives from 11 countries was also established. With Africa home to the youngest population of any continent in the world - 60% of its 1.2 billion population is under the age of 25 - the leadership and strength of our African colleagues was an inspiring way to start the year. Then, in late September, Chile became the latest country in Latin America to officially launch their national 100 Million campaign, joining their regional partners in Brazil and Peru. In November, Germany launched its national 100 Million campaign, with youth activists meeting with members of the Bundestag to initiate their advocacy plan for Germany to champion the rights of children worldwide.
Togo, Ghana, Chile, and Germany join Bangladesh, India, Sweden and the US as having formally launched the campaign, but standing alongside them, youth activists and human rights defenders from many more countries, including Uganda, Niger, Japan, Panama, Colombia and Liberia, are also campaigning under the 100 Million banner. Led by passionate young people and supported by civil society organisations, the 100 Million campaign is now a force on every continent, with the global south constituting the majority of our network.
Young people stand strong against injustice
At the very heart of the 100 Million campaign is the knowledge that the strongest advocates for the rights of children and young people, are children and young people themselves. Time and time again in 2018, youth activists proved this to be true. For example, at the Second Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit, held in Jordan in March, the strongest, most compelling voice was that of the 200-strong youth delegation. Demanding action, not just words, that protects the world’s most vulnerable children, they brought the room of Nobel Laureates and global leaders to a standing ovation. You can watch their powerful intervention here.
Locally, young people continued to be a force to be reckoned with, such as the 100 Million youth activists in Liberia and Uganda who regularly travelled across the country to communities where children face multiple forms of exclusion. They ran creative outreach sessions and set up child rights clubs with marginalised children, empowering their members with the knowledge of their right to be free, safe and educated.
We are stronger when we work together
Witnessing, building and supporting collective power in 2018 reminded us that by working together we can achieve more than we ever thought possible. Youth-led local campaign groups in schools, universities and communities spread to countries on every continent in 2018, all united in demanding that the most vulnerable children are included in their societies. Activists in Peru celebrated a year of incredible work as a National Youth Committee leading the Peruvian 100 Million campaign, and even started replicating this model of collective youth leadership across the country at the regional level. And internationally, we have been so inspired when forging strong relationships with youth-led bodies such as the All Africa Students’ Union (AASU) and the European Organising Bureau of School Student Unions (OBESSU), and we look forward to continue working alongside them this year. Representative youth organisations are an incredible force for change, harnessing the power of their memberships to push tirelessly for youth rights, justice and equality, and they’re not stopping any time soon!
Despite attempts by some to incite division, 2018 proved to us that there is more globalised compassion than many would have us believe. Throughout the year the 100 Million network came together to show solidarity for our peers across the world when they needed it most.
100 Million youth activists from India, Pakistan, Syria, Chile, Brazil, Peru, the UK and the US use a WhatsApp group to share their solidarity and coordinate actions. In April 2018, these youth activists demonstrated their solidarity with two Syrian members’ demand for safe spaces during the chemical attack in Douma, urging their respective governments to take action and raising awareness on social media. In May, 100 Million youth activists took action around the world against community violence on a single day by using street art to ask their communities to open their eyes to the ways vulnerable young people’s safety is at risk locally. By acting simultaneously they helped remind their community that while an injustice may impact people differently, depending on where they live or who they are, it is also part of a wider global problem, and we must all come together to end it.
The Price of Free
The end of 2018 culminated with our global week of action around the release of the award-winning documentary ‘The Price of Free’. The film tells the story of the inspiring work of our campaign co-founder and Nobel Peace Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi and highlights the ongoing injustice of 152 million children who are still working as child labourers at the expense of their education, safety and childhood.
In November, screenings of ‘The Price of Free’ took place in 36 countries, on every continent, in parliaments, schools, universities and communities around the world! From Chad to Chile, Fiji to France, the week was packed full of activities showcasing the power of young people to end child labour. Supported by global and regional partners, including the international teachers’ union federation, Education International, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and student-led bodies such as the All Africa Students' Union, the week demonstrated the power of working together to globalise compassion, uniting in our demand that decision-makers take action to ensure every child is free, safe and educated. And it didn’t end there! The film will now be available to watch, for free, until March 2019 and anyone can host a screening with friends, family or colleagues by registering here.
Finally, our 2018 story ends with how it began, by thanking all our activists, partners and supporters, for an incredible year of standing against injustice and demanding a free, safe and educated world. We look forward to continue working with even more of you in 2019!