November 16, 2010 — More than 40 countries across the globe are celebrating the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children this week with observances aimed at improving life for the planet’s most disadvantaged women and children.
In religious services, prayers and meditations from Argentina to Zimbabwe, faith groups from every tradition are joining forces with secular organizations, governments, NGOs and community groups in a global expression of hope, determination and concrete actions.
Celebrated every year on 20 November to coincide with Universal Children’s Day, the World Day’s primary aim is to bring religious and secular groups together to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight internationally agreed targets to improve the wellbeing of the planet and its poorest inhabitants by the year 2015.
UNICEF, a main partner in the initiative, is spearheading World Day events in 19 countries, focusing on activities to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health, with a particular emphasis on exclusive breastfeeding, which has the potential to save 1.2 million lives every year.
The Global Network of Religions for Children, another key partner, is organizing observances in 29 countries, from interfaith services to peace marches, violence prevention and child protection activities, cross-cultural ethics education, art and cultural events, advocacy and communications efforts.
In New York, the World Day observances will be launched with a candlelight vigil on 16 November in Times Square attended by United Nations diplomats, U.N. officials, non-governmental organizations, faith communities and members of the public to honor child victims of abuse and exploitation worldwide.
Among other events:
- In Algeria, the country’s 15,000 mosques are focusing their sermons on November 19th on breastfeeding and child rights. (read more)
- In Sri Lanka, religious, government and community leaders from around the nation are launching a year-long child protection campaign. (read more)
- In Brazil, five cities are holding interfaith celebrations and advocacy events to highlight the impact on children of violence, racism and discrimination. (read more)
- In Kenya, UNICEF is helping to launch an initiative to train 27,000 religious leaders in key maternal and child health practices, with the aim of reaching 27 million people across the country. (read more)
The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children was established in 2008 by Arigatou International, an international faith-based NGO, as a way to reinforce the concrete work of secular child advocacy groups with the inspirational power of the world’s religious organizations. Its main partners are UNICEF, UNESCO and the Global Network of Religions for Children, founded by Arigatou in 2000.
In 2009, more than 9,000 people took part in World Day celebrations in 29 cities in 22 countries, following up faith observances with tangible projects to improve child welfare.