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 Introducing the Year of Childhood and our chance to give children power

16 February 2021

Co-director of Children’s Parliament, Cathy McCulloch, explains why, on the cusp of UNCRC incorporation, it’s time to celebrate and step up our efforts to realise children’s rights

A Year of Celebration

This year, 2021, is a year of double celebration for Children’s Parliament. It is our 25th birthday, and the year Scottish Parliament is expected to incorporate the UNCRC into Scots law. This incorporation will see Scotland join a small group of progressive countries where incorporation has already taken place. During this year, we want to amplify the work that is taking place to realise children’s human rights.

To harness the excitement around incorporation, Children’s Parliament is hosting a ‘Year of Childhood’ running from January – December 2021.

A Year of Vitality

As we find ourselves on the brink of this historic legislation, we have a great deal of work ahead of us to bring Scotland behind incorporation in practical ways in order to bring it to life.

The Year of Childhood starts this journey by bringing together parents, carers, professionals and civic society in a celebration of children’s human rights. Through films, blogs, webinars and events we will get together to highlight the transformative opportunities that embedding children’s human rights affords us. It will be joyful, positive, inspiring and occasionally challenging.

A Year of Power

Embedding a children’s rights approach gives children power. The power to acquire knowledge, and the power to hold agency. Children learn that they have human rights within their home, school and wider community. This knowledge forms the foundation that helps them to learn what to do when their rights are breached.

I am continually surprised and disappointed at how infrequently children are able to articulate what children’s rights mean to them. When asked, children’s responses are often couched in the context of global rights – the right to shelter, to not be kidnapped or fight in a war. All are important but being forced to fight in a war isn’t often relatable for children in Scotland. What matters to our children is having enough food, having a warm home, being protected from abuse, and having a voice. Critically, the new legislation gives children the power to take cases to court when their rights are breached.

A Year of Action

We have lots of exciting plans and would love for you to join us in them!

Firstly, if you haven’t yet read the UNCRC, read it on the Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights) website (click here to access the website). Reassure yourself that the UNCRC sets out the minimum standards our children can expect from us.

To inform the Year of Childhood programme we want to highlight what makes a happy childhood where children are nourished and can flourish. We invite you to help us create this picture by sharing a story of your own childhood (click here t0 explore).

We are also on a mission to revitalise Children in Scotland’s Call 23 from their 25 Calls campaign: let’s make Scotland a nation of Unfearties!

Please join us in the Year of Childhood, and help release the potential the UNCRC offers to make sure every child in Scotland is healthy, happy and safe.

Click here to see a short film to see a short film about the need for UNCRC Incorporation, ‘The Time Is Now’.

Cathy is co-founder and Co-Director of Children’s Parliament. Seeing the impact a children’s human rights-based approach has on outcomes for children has been Cathy’s driving passion for the past 20 years. In 2017, she received an OBE for services to children’s rights and wellbeing.

Please help us spread the message of Year of Childhood by including Children’s Parliament in all your messages and using #YearofChildhood in your communications.

About the author

Cathy McCulloch is co-founder and co-director of Children's Parliament

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The Year of Childhood

The Year of Childhood is a year-long celebration of childhood running throughout 2021

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Children in Scotland magazine - Issue 200

The anniversary edition is available now to read, download and share for free

Click to read the magazine

Participation guidelines

Our refreshed publication can help children's voices to be at the heart of participation work

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