Proposition theme for October 17 2019

May 2019 - The consultation is now finished.
We have received 74 contributions from 34 countries, which have enriched the two proposals below. The contributions were presented to the United Nations in New York in April.

The United Nations theme for October 17, 2019 is:
“Acting together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty"


The following two themes, which take into account the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2019, have been proposed for the October 17 commemoration this year:

1 - Ensuring the well-being of children by providing a safe and sustainable environment

2 -  Empowering children to end poverty

People have been invited to answer these three questions

Question 1 : Which theme do you prefer?

Question 2 : What are the two main reasons why you prefer this theme?

Question 3 : In 2019 we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Keeping this in mind, please tell us about one or two actions you plan to pursue, implement or undertake to support or elaborate on the theme you have chosen as your preference?


Background for the proposed themes:

The emphasis on children in the proposed themes reflects the upcoming 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) [] which was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1989.

The Convention states that everyone under the age of 18 (the definition of a child), regardless of gender, origin, religion or possible disabilities, needs special care and protection because children are often the most vulnerable. Yet, in most parts of the world we continue to witness children suffering from poverty, violence and abuse, forced labour, forced separations from their parents, and other serious social and economic deprivations.

Therefore, the proposed themes strive to address the fundamental issues of the protection of children, especially those living in poverty, and their empowerment as agents of change. In particular, the proposals attempt to highlight (a) the need to provide children a safe and sustainable environment where they can attain their full potential; and (b) that the empowering of children, and the protection of their human rights, is crucial to ending poverty everywhere.

The emphasis on children in poverty provides important opportunities to involve children and children's movements, such as Tapori, and to highlight their contributions to ending extreme poverty.

For your reference:

The following UN bodies are examining these themes in 2019:
- High Level Political Forum's theme is “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality” in 2019;
- The sixty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women in 2019 has the priority theme: “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls”

70 comments for this discussion

By Arsène B., MOVULAC Association "Monde des Vulnérables Actifs", Democratic Republic of Congo

Theme 1
Reason 1: the main reasons are elements such as the "child aspect", the "child protection aspect" must be a foundation for all development and poverty reduction actions. All over the world, and particularly in our country DR Congo, vulnerability is much more prevalent among children, especially those under the age of 5.
Ensuring a decent environment that allows children to grow up well in the right conditions is a prerequisite for sustainable development, because the skills, talents, different hereditary and acquired faculties will be developed and will make it possible in the future to reduce poverty in a community or even a country.

Reason 2: Children are currently an instrument of illegal exploitation in all sectors of human life. Without access to educational, health and other facilities, children are recruited and over-exploited in armed groups, mining squares, factories, domestic work and in various forms of trafficking without any legislation in their favour. This results in a high infant mortality rate. Ensuring a safe and sustainable environment would be a sustainable solution to poverty reduction, as children who have grown up in a safe environment would be able to build safe human capital capable of developing better survival strategies for future generations.

Action, activity:
To develop the theme in terms of action, we intend to promote non-formal education for children in our province. Given the high rate of illiteracy and the high number of children without access to formal education, the creation of academic upgrading and vocational training centres would be a good strategic orientation in order to capitalize on this human capital that is not supervised in South Kivu, and in the DRCongo in general.

ATD Fourth World Rouyn-Noranda, Canada

Suggested theme:
"Empower children to take action against poverty by ensuring a safe and sustainable environment."

Reason 1: importance of talking about poverty.
2nd reason: importance not to forget families, because there are no poor children in rich families, the family must be part of the children's safe and sustainable environment.
Action, activity:
Make contact with the staff of Notre-Dame de la Protection School, a primary school located in a neighbourhood of the city of Rouyn-Noranda where the replica of the overcoming poverty stone is located, to see how children could participate in the October 17 activities.

ATD Fourth World, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

At the initiative of France F., member of the International Committee October 17, we met for a good two hours, at the Fourth World House in Montreal, with 11 people, some with experience of poverty, others without.

We provide you with the highlights of our discussions:

The children
- Let's listen to the children when they talk, we have a lot to learn from them.
- When we do Tapori we make sure that the children communicate with each other. It opens the child to the concern of other children more in difficulty and invites solidarity.

- Fear that the first theme will lead to an idea of removing children from their families by talking about a "safe environment".
- The two titles frighten me: "ensuring" and "safe", "ending poverty", because we have already tried to make ourselves heard and we have not yet succeeded in it.

We cannot talk about children without talking about their parents and families.
- Accompanying parents is participating in the education of children. It is important to accompany the parents.
- How to protect children's rights without protecting parents' rights.
- It starts with the parents, it's the landmark, it's like a tree, the base is the parents and the branches are the children. We must take care of the children but also of the parents so that the base is solid.

- But in a time of crisis, we must do something, we must have organizations, relays for families.
- The system always responds with the hammer instead of supporting.
- We take the children away before we even see if anything else is possible.
At the time, at the slightest wrong step we found ourselves placed in an asylum.

Listening is about giving the child the opportunity to express himself or herself, and then interpreting that. But we cannot give the child a total choice, such as choosing between two foster families, so that he or she does not have to bear the burden of choice later on.
A safe environment is not provided when the child moves from one foster family to another many times.

- In a conference on the very high placement of children in an Aboriginal community in Quebec, it was presented how the law had been adapted to experiment with keeping children in their families by creating support from the entire community. Couldn't we also think about how to build a community around the poorest people to allow family life?
- There is an African proverb: it takes a village to raise a child.

- Art, culture, sport, etc. are very important. But what if you can't afford all this? We must find a way to make everything accessible to everyone.
- Children need places to spend time together (e. g. tamtam, street libraries...).
- A safe environment is adding a plus in the neighbourhood to ensure it but not excluding by placing children.

In the end, we did not choose a theme.
Theme 2 is not clear enough, too vague.

The majority of the group was more inclined towards the first theme but some found it too academic. The words "ensuring", "safe and sustainable environment" are not so obvious to understand or can be misinterpreted. A child can be extracted from violence but put into another form of violence by, for example, removing him or her from his or her family or by having him or her experience violence in a place of placement.

We think it is very important to add the word "parents" or "family" to the first theme.

"Ensure the well-being of children and their families/parents by providing a safe and sustainable environment".

One person in the group suggested another formulation of the theme: "to accompany parents and children in order to develop themselves and promote the development of each other".

By ATD Fourth World Geneva, Switzerland

There were about ten of us from the Movement, with or without experience of poverty, to talk about the consultation on the themes of October 17.

The first theme is more complete. The word well-being was important for a woman who lives in poverty, it is a rather broad word that can lead to dialogue. This theme is more powerful, it makes the link with the environment, a very important theme for today's youth. One could even add "that the environment is sustainable and leaves no one behind" in order to take into account all vulnerable groups of children whose rights may be violated.

The second theme is equally important. It makes children subjects. This theme can be understood in different ways: how to support children out of poverty, through education, culture etc., or how children can be actors themselves?

Someone also said "they also care if their parents have suffered from poverty".

As a result, there was a somewhat mixed proposal of the two: "Support children to ensure their well-being in a safe and sustainable environment". But someone pointed out that families need to be supported.

By Isabelle P, ATD Fourth World International, International Committee for October 17

Providing a safe and sustainable environment is not enough to ensure the well-being of children. In low income neighborhoods and slums around the world, children tell us again and again that their family is very important. Whatever the family structure, their family is very important to grow up. Through years and years of action with children living in the street, we have learned that when it is not possible that children get back to live with their parents or one of them, it is very important to make possible their reconnection and to cultivate relationships with their extended family. It is crucial for their future.
That is why I suggest to rephrase the first proposal « ensuring the well-being of children by supporting their family and providing a safe and sustainable environment ».

The second proposal emphasizes that children are key players in the struggle against poverty and especially social exclusion. They are key players when they refuse to leave some other children behind in their school and in their community. They are key players when they try to live the values of their family or their community and sometimes they remind them about their values, they inspire adults and they need their support in action against social exclusion. When we support children to pay attention to other children who are isolated for some reason or discriminated, when we give them opportunities to learn about the difficult life of children around the world and to take action, we empower children to end poverty. We prepare them to become adults able and willing « to come together with those furthest behind to build an inclusive world of universal respect for human rights and dignity. » (Oct 17 theme in 2018).

By Benoit and Véronique R.S., ATD Fourth World, Eastern Europe, International Committee October 17

Theme 2
Theme 2 proposes a commitment to everyone, starting with the belief that children are actors in the fight against extreme poverty. Children are no longer seen only as beneficiaries or human beings in need of protection, but as people capable of action and who must be supported.

Of course, the well-being of children must be ensured by providing them a safe and sustainable environment. This is also "supporting children... ", but this cannot be done without them, without their participation, without thinking with them.

The various actors in education have little know-how and tools to come together, teachers, parents, children.

Acting on the street, in the heart of the slum where they live, shows us their talents and capacities. This contributes to their well-being.
We would like to talk about this boy, turbulent and rejected by many people, in the barracks area where he lives. Yet he has so much talent to take care of his handicapped grandmother or his 4-year-old neighbour. He also has such creative talent when he comes to the workshops every week. However, this boy still does not go to school, a school 500 metres away, which is not ready to welcome him either.

Action, activity:
We would like to create one or two proposals for activities to be proposed to different groups in the countries where we are involved.

By Tapori groups (13 animators and 50 children), ATD Fourth World Madagascar

The choice was made based on what we shared for two weeks. We summarized with them everything they said. Afterwards, each child expressed through a drawing the theme that suits him/her and corresponds to his/her right and needs.

The children made a total of 108 drawings, which represent:
-Schools or anything related to education: 30
-Dignified homes or their dream home: 37
-Environment: 18
-Decent work: 3
-Religion or spirituality: 7
-Right to identity: 3

The chosen theme is theme 2

Theatre on dignified housing for all

A family no longer has a home because their house was destroyed by a flood. So this family went to their relatives for help, but they did not welcome her because their house is already full of people.

Later, the family went to ask the neighbours if they could accommodate her, but they live in the same neighbourhood and have the same difficulties.

This family no longer knows what to do, so they let themselves go without direction. Along the way, the father met long-time friends. They asked each other for news and that's when the father told them about their problem. The friends advised her to check with associations that can help them. One told him to go to Enda OI Habitat or the Red Cross.

And this is how these associations took charge of them and rebuilt their homes after the various stages of investigation.

Factors: destruction of the house, not being welcomed by your close family or neighbour
Consequence: being homeless
Solutions: meet other partners to rebuild the house

Theatre on education

The scene takes place in the fifth grade class where there are children from wealthy and poor families. During the class, a child borrowed a pen from a poor child. The latter then gave his pen by mumbling that the other is rich but has no pen. That's when the fight broke out. They insulted each other. Rich children humiliated the poor and the poor put the rich in their place. The teacher then intervened by telling the students that they should not say anything mean to each other and that they are all equal in the classroom. But since discipline is essential at school, the teacher took the fighting children to the principal's house to give them a moral lesson.

Factors: discrimination at school, non-compliance, lack of equipment,...
Consequence: Division into groups, exclusion of social classes, loss of material
Solutions : Respect - Each child must have their own school supplies.

Theater on decent work

The dream jobs of children: teacher, doctor, police officer, magistrate, company manager, shopkeeper, cleaner, canal cleaner.

  • In an average family, with two daughters, one very wise and one a little stubborn. Parents follow the whims of their children. The little girl who is a little stubborn refuses to go to school.

Factors: too spoiled, dependence
As a result, she will find herself in poverty, a degradation of life, she will not be able to finish her studies.

  • School situation: many believe that life depends on success at school, the teacher has prepared students to have goals in life. What children want to be when they grow up: a worker in a company, a big boss, a policeman, a teacher, a doctor, a magistrate...

The factors: if you don't have money to go to school, drop out, delay in understanding the lessons, you can't follow in class, exclusion...
As a consequence: no diploma, no job that provides a living, you are excluded from society, you become a pickpocket.
Solutions :
- Ensure that all children are in school
- Children have the right to be protected
- Children have the right to go to school
- Children have the right to be loved properly
- Parents have found decent work

By the Tapori children (Grace, Toussaint, David, Kevin, Deputy, Christine, Pierre, Mika, Nadège, Rehema, Hilaire), Democratic Republic of Congo:

Theme 2

What does well-being mean?
-It is everything that gives a life without difficulty, without much pain, which contributes to a life of peace. Live well with friends, go to school to be respected and respect our rights.
-It's when you're in good health;
-It's when you spend the night in a house and not outside, on a tarpaulin, in a market.
-It is when we children live with our parents, our older brothers and sisters, our neighbours.
-It's when we play with our friends.

Safe and sustainable environment:
-It's when we don't cut down trees, because they bring us freshness.
-It's where there is no garbage thrown everywhere. Such as plastic bags, for example.
-It's where we do the manual work by cutting the herbs.
-It's where we open the gutters to avoid stagnant water and mosquitoes.

Poverty and its forms:
-Without a friend you become poor because you will always be sad
-When we lack housing, we will live on the street and be rejected by others;
-Poverty is when you lack the necessities to lead a happy life. When school fees have not been paid.

Action, activity:
Are there any actions or initiatives that children can take to fight against the various forms of poverty? How, who, what people, what space, what conditions do children need for this?

Yes, we have initiatives to fight poverty, such as our radio program, which denounces violence against children and calls on adults to respect our rights.

In 2014, Tapori children went to visit friends-children in conflict with the law in their neighbourhoods in Bukavu Central Prison. We played, sang, wrote poems, read the friendship messages, etc. These actions, which children do on a daily basis, have received the support of adults and their entire community.

Children alone can't make it if adults do not accompany them to achieve their goal of supporting their friends living in poverty.

Their Tapori friends victims of the fire that burned down their homes, the Tapori children made the gesture of solidarity, each child had brought who, a suit, a shoe, salt, soap, spoon, money, a tree stick, etc.. The adults accompanied the children. We are happy that today these friends have a house to spend the night in and they started school thanks to these gestures of solidarity from here and there.

The Tapori gatherings and library we have every week allow us to share our ideas and express our dreams. We take initiatives to visit, support, do manual work to show solidarity, etc.

The time of meeting and the support of our animators who mobilize to accompany us in our gestures of solidarity is one of these initiatives.

Given all these initiatives, children have chosen the theme "Empowering children to end poverty" because, with many experiences and gestures of solidarity that contribute to a more just world, this theme can lead adults to follow in the footsteps of children and support them in their initiatives.

Our friend Irenge has found many friends today because we supported him and welcomed him into our Tapori group.

Some points of reference:
-the people on whom children can rely when they have a difficulty;
-gestures of solidarity that have allowed them to see a real change in a child in their community, group or neighbourhood;
-meeting times like Tapori or other;
-adult support: facilitators are the first to support children, and on whom children often rely to achieve their dreams. The parents of the children give their support for example when it comes to making solidarity visits either to the hospital, to the prison, to a centre; they accompany the children from a material and even moral point of view. But the support of the political authorities is still far from having arrived.

By Alfredo T., Wadah Foundation, Indonesia

Theme 1
The reason why I chose No. 1 is because now is really the time to lay down the ground works before it’s too late. I believe that providing safe and sustainable environment encompasses a bigger scope and not just the environment per se. This will include everything that deals and is related to providing dignity to our children and children of the future and goes beyond the confines of the definition of environment.

Providing a safe and sustainable environment to our children means we want to ensure that as early as today, that the future of our children depends on what legacy and kind of future we have laid in store for them. Today is the time for policies and regulations to be truly implemented and followed before it becomes too late and irreparable consequences are committed.

Action, activity:
-We will continue to campaign and implement programs that will ensure that the right to live and life of children living in poverty and everyone for that matter are upheld and followed.

-We will continue to fight for the right of undocumented or those considered to be stateless children be given the same rights as everyone living in this world and be able to live a worthy life that they deserve. Here in Indonesia, we support communities where children and their families are considered stateless or non-existent. Having no identities means no access to everything. Stateless children do not have access to education, no access to health, and even they die, they can’t even be buried to cemeteries, because they are considered as non-existent. Where is dignity there then?

By the Committee October 17 of Vannes, France

Theme not chosen

Action, activity:
- With children in street libraries and schools, reflect on the human rights of every child: recognition, respect, dignity.

-With children, families, teachers, educators, politicians and citizens, take action to ensure that these rights are effective. For this purpose, have a pedagogical document at our disposal.