Universal Children’s Day – November 20, 2020

Fri Nov 20
Investing in our future means investing in our children — which is why the United Nations has designated every November 20 as Universal Children’s Day. It’s a time to promote togetherness around the world, awareness of the problems children face in every corner of the globe, and improve the welfare for all children.

When is Universal Children’s Day 2020?

The United Nations' (UN) Universal Children's Day, which was established in 1954, is celebrated on November 20 each year to promote international togetherness and awareness among children worldwide. UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, promotes and coordinates this special day, which also works towards improving children's welfare.

History of Universal Children’s Day

Children’s Day began on the second Sunday of June in 1857 by Reverend Dr. Charles Leonard, pastor of the Universalist Church of the Redeemer in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Leonard held a special service dedicated to, and for the children. Leonard named the day Rose Day, though it was later named Flower Sunday, and then named Children’s Day.

Children’s Day was first officially declared a national holiday by the Republic of Turkey in 1920 with the set date of April 23. Children’s Day has been celebrated nationally since 1920 with the Turkish government and the newspapers of the time declaring it a day for the children. However, it was decided that an official confirmation was needed to clarify and justify this celebration and the official declaration was made nationally in 1929 by the founder and the President of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Though Universal Children’s Day was established by the United Nations in 1954, it wasn’t until November 20, 1959 that the UN General Assembly adopted an extended form of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Originally acquired in 1924 by the League of Nations, the UN adopted this document as its own statement of children’s rights. 

The original text reads as follows:

  1. The child must be given the means requisite for its normal development, both materially and spiritually
  2. The child that is hungry must be fed, the child that is sick must be nursed, the child that is backward must be helped, the delinquent child must be reclaimed, and the orphan and the waif must be sheltered and succored.
  3. The child must be the first to receive relief in times of distress.
  4. The child must be put in a position to earn a livelihood and must be protected against every form of exploitation.
  5. The child must be brought up in the consciousness that its talents must be devoted to the service of its fellow men.

For the expanded version, the UN adopted 10 additional principles with an accompanying resolution, proposed by the delegation of Afghanistan, calling for governments to recognize these rights, strive for their acceptance, and publicize the document as widely as possible.

On November 20, 1989, The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention of the Rights of the Child. The CRC is a human rights treaty setting out the civil, political, economic, social, health, and cultural rights of children. The document deals with child-specific needs and rights, requiring all nations that ratify it are bound to it by international law and must act within the best interests of the child.

In September 2012, the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations led the initiative for the education of children. He firstly wanted every child to be able to attend school, a goal by 2015. Secondly, to improve the skill set acquired in these schools. Finally, implementing policies regarding education to promote peace, respect, and environmental concern. 

Universal Children’s Day is not just a day to celebrate children for who they are, but to bring awareness to children around the globe that have experienced violence in forms of abuse, exploitation, and discrimination. Children are used as laborers in some countries, immersed in armed conflict, living on the streets, suffering by differences be it religion, minority issues, or disabilities. Currently, there are about 153 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 who are forced into child labor.

 

Universal Children’s Day timeline

1920
Turkey leads the way

Children's Day was first declared a national holiday in Turkey

1954
United Nations gets involved

The United Nations formally established Universal Children's Day

1959
An official document

The UN General Assembly adopted an extended version of the Declaration of Rights of the Child

2012
Ban Ki-moon

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations led the initiative for every child to be able to attend school by 2015

Universal Children's Day By Numbers

264 million – The number of children who do not go to school.

90% – The vast majority of children with disabilities do not go to school, facing multiple barriers, from stigma and ignorance to lack of infrastructure, materials, or trained teachers.

1 in 10 – It is estimated that there are 1 billion people around the world with disabilities, and at least 1 in 10 are children.

150 million – The number of children worldwide engaged in child labor, not even having the chance to be children.

$1.25 – The average cost a day per child in developing countries to provide a full cycle of pre-primary through secondary education.

989 – Singapore topped all other countries, ranking 989 out of 1000 in 2019 for the fewest children missing out on childhood, according to Save The Children.

375 – Niger ranked the lowest of all countries for the most amount of children missing out on childhood in 2019

43 – The United States badly trailed nearly all other advanced countries in helping children reach their full potential in a 2019 report by Save The Children.

26 million – The number of children out of school in Ethiopia because of the coronavirus pandemic

99% – The estimation of children worldwide — 2.3 billion — live in one of the 186 countries that have implemented some form of restrictions due to COVID-19.

Universal Children’s Day FAQs

What is the meaning of Universal Children's Day?

The United Nations established Universal Children’s Day in order to promote internal togetherness, raise awareness among children worldwide, and improve children’s welfare. 
 

How do we celebrate Universal Children's Day in school?

To celebrate Universal Children’s Day at school, consider teaching your students about the lives of kids their age in different parts of the world. You can also start a pen pal program with students in a country you’re learning about! 
 

What was the theme of Universal Children's Day 2018?

The theme of Universal Children’s Day 2018 was “Children are taking over and turning the world blue.” The theme was supported by UNICEF and featured child actress Millie Bobby Brown as the face of the campaign.
 

How to Observe Universal Children’s Day

  1. Find an event

    Every year, the UN sponsors events that bring together children and adults to raise awareness. In 2016, some of the world’s most prominent writers gathered to craft extremely short stories that highlight the problems the world’s poorest children face. Many of the UN's subsidiaries also hold their own events, so there will be plenty for you to choose from.

  2. Spend some time in the community

    You can host your own event meant to help adults spend quality time with the kids from the community. This can be as simple as meeting in a local park, or it could be a more elaborate party organized by the local counsel. Either way, the point is to show the children how important it is to build a bond with the community.

  3. Sponsor a child

    UNICEF and other organizations have made it easier than ever to donate or even sponsor a child at a fixed price every month. A small donation can go a long way in changing the life of a child. If you’ve ever thought about sponsoring a child, or donating to an international organization, make today the day to do it.

Why Universal Children’s Day is Important

  1. Guarantees rights to children

    In typical government documents, the rights given to people are generally understood to be for adults. However, thanks to the UN, governments around the world have adopted treaties that guarantee children the right to life, health, education, play, family, protection from violence, discrimination, and suppression.

  2. They are the future

    Changes take time. And by time, we mean generations. If we want to ensure a stable, safe, sustainable future for our planet, it starts with the children of today. That’s why early education is imperative, and the UN is leading the charge here.

  3. Raises awareness

    It may be easy to overlook the problems facing children today if they aren’t apparent in your daily life. Universal Children’s Day seeks to spread the knowledge that there are millions of children around the world who don’t have access to education, healthcare, or opportunities.

Universal Children’s Day dates

YearDateDay
2020November 20Friday
2021November 20Saturday
2022November 20Sunday
2023November 20Monday
2024November 20Wednesday

Let’s get social

Here are some special hashtags for the day.

#ChildrensDay #UniversalChildrensDay #Children #WorldChildrensDay #EducateChildren #ChildrenAreTheFuture #SaveTheChildren #HappyChildren #ProtectChildren #UnitedNations