Photo by Ashkan Forouzani – Unsplash
Since its creation 72 years ago, OMEP has been working for the effective realization of human rights in early childhood, understood as the life period that extends from birth to 8.
Young children are social agents from the beginning of their existence, provided with particular interests, capacities and vulnerabilities, and they need protection, guidance and support in the exercise of their rights.
Young children are citizens from birth, meaning that they are holders of all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
Today is world health day, and we commemorate it in the center of an unprecedented pandemic caused by COVID-19, which, not only put us in an historic moment of crisis and social uncertainty, but alerts us to the consequences and changes it will have on the future life of our societies.
And this pandemic is not just a health crisis, it is a giant challenge that raises big questions for us, such as: in what kind of world we will continue living, nurturing and educating our children.
It has been raised, in black and white, that, in order to take care of the life, health and survival of all citizens, we need a strong and effective State. Much of the serious problems we are facing are related to the inability to respond and show the weakness and fragility of the States and their public policies.
The care and realization of early childhood human rights depends, directly, on the leadership and action of States to protect and promote them. For this reason, States must be strengthened to regain their role as guarantors of rights of all, without discrimination, creating and implementing adequate public policies with necessary funding.
In early childhood, survival and physical health are priorities, but all aspects of the development, health and psychosocial well-being of young children are important and interdependent. That is why it is also necessary to attend to emotional care and careful guidance, enabling spaces and time for play, exploration, movement and learning.
We know that the Coronavirus has created an unprecedented economic crisis and states are already anticipating austerity measures and budget cuts.
As activists for early childhood rights we must be vigilant to empower States to apply appropriate measures so that children’s rights will not be compromised by any type of regressive measure. We must also ensure that countries do not go into debts and that tax justice can be achieved. Taxes are a crucial tool to combat inequalities, redistribute wealth, and raise incomes to secure human rights, such as health and education. The richest people and large companies must pay their fair share, and States must ensure that this provides to finance efficient public policies for the entire population.
As Nelson Mandela said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”
As OMEP World President, on Health Day, I wish to:
– insist on the central importance of guaranteeing justice for young children, giving priority to the realization of their right to health, as well as to all other human rights.
– and to thank the nurses, doctors, and all workers who are on the front line of COVID-19 for their work, dedication, and commitment with the realization of the human right to health.
Mercedes Mayol Lassalle
OMEP World President