Youth activists take critical role in Laureates and Leaders Fair Share for Children Summit to demand a fair share of COVID relief.
The most vulnerable children have been left to fend for themselves - millions of lives will be lost unless we act now.
Dr. Musarrat Maisha Reza, Chairperson of the Commonwealth Students' Association and 100 Million Trustee
Youth activists, Nobel laureates, and world leaders joined in common cause to demand US$1 trillion for the world’s most marginalised children in the wake of COVID-19, during the Laureates and Leaders ‘Fair Share for Children’ Summit. Held over two days, the Summit discussed the rapidly emerging global child rights crisis resulting from COVID-19, and put forward united solutions. Over 5,000 people participated live, including government representatives from over 40 countries, with another 10,000 viewing the recordings since.
Laureates and Leaders founder and 2014 Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi said: “The moral commitment and compassion demonstrated by the speakers at the Summit has emboldened the call for a Fair Share for Children in the COVID crisis-relief measures. The global response has been disgracefully unequal, unjust and immoral: the Fair Share Report issued by the Laureates and Leaders for Children has revealed that only 0.13% of the $8 trillion global COVID response has been allocated to the most vulnerable. We don’t have a choice but to act, and to act now. For our children, their rights, their freedom, their future - their fair share.”
The Summit identified a comprehensive set of challenges facing the world’s children resulting from the devastating economic and social impacts of the global pandemic. As stated in the Fair Share for Children report, released during the Summit, child poverty, children out of school, child marriage, child labour and slavery are all set to increase as direct results of the pandemic. If the futures of the most marginalised children do not become a priority for governments, millions of lives will remain in jeopardy. The report included a clear set of policy demands, which were heavily influenced by the youth-led Justice for Every Child campaign.
During the Summit, youth leaders and activists from across the 100 Million network spoke on critical topics including hunger, education, children on the move, and child labour side by side with leaders including HE Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden; Henrietta Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF; Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization; stateswoman Graça Machel; and Nobel Peace laureate Leymah Gbowee. Importantly, young people with lived experience of marginalisation - from former child labourers to unaccompanied refugee children - took the platform to advocate strongly for their rights and the rights of their peers to fair protection from the worst impacts of the pandemic.
Andrea Valle is the National Youth Coordinator for 100 Million in Peru, which is one the countries hardest hit by the pandemic. Youth activists from 100 Million Peru have been combining their advocacy and political campaigning with delivering emergency relief for the most vulnerable children and their families. Speaking during a session focused on child hunger, she relayed her experiences to the Summit: "Poor communities around the world are sending a clear, urgent message: we will die from hunger before COVID-19."
Kinsu Kumar, an Indian youth activist and former child labourer passionately expressed the frustration felt by many young people at the inadequate response they've seen from governments. “I question governments and their lack of accountability for children – I question their conscience today, I question the death of morality, and I question your political will that values the economy much more than the lives of children!”
Other youth speakers included Peter Kwasi Kodjie, Secretary-General, All-Africa Student Union and 100 Million Trustee; Abraham M. Keita, Youth Activist And International Children’s Peace Prize Winner 2015; Ed,vardas Vabuolas, Organising Bureau Of European School Student Unions and 100 Million Trustee; Alanna Mangueira, 100 Milhoes Brasil National Youth Committee and 100 Million Trustee; Lalita Duhariya, Youth Leader And President- National Children’s Parliament; Ayoade Oluwafemi Fadoju, Program Coordinator- Esomchi Foundation; and Seme Ludanga Faustino, Co-Founder- I Can South Sudan
The Summit concluded by providing a path forward for the world to ensure that an entire generation of children is not lost. A call to action was issued specifically demanding US$1 trillion to address the urgent needs of the world’s 20% most marginalised children and communities, as detailed in the Fair Share for Children report.