NEW YORK, May 2012 – In the four years since it was launched, the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children has been able to increase its activities more than threefold, according to the organization’s annual Evaluation Report, which was released today.
The World Day mobilized a handful of activities in 2008, the first year it observed World Day of Prayer and Action for Children. In 2009, the World Day was observed through 29 activities in 22 countries. Last year, there were 96 activities in 72 countries on 20 November 2011, when World Day was observed.
The majority of World Day activities – which included religious services, vigils, workshops, mobilization campaigns, and media coverage – highlighted the nonprofit’s new theme Stop Violence against Children, which was inspired by the work of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Violence against Children.
Last year, the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children further extended its reach by partnering with 1400 organizations, which held religious services, vigils or workshops. These activities – more than half of which were held in multi-faith settings – brought together nearly 230,000 people around the world. Thanks to the efforts of the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children partners, 159 organizations worked on 14 different campaigns to mobilize support to stop violence against children; promote birth registration; prevent child marriage; or promote positive parenting.
The Stop Violence against Children theme was officially launched at the United Nations on 24 June 2011 with an event sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Chile to the United Nations. As a lead-in to the 2011 World Day of Prayer and Action for Children, the United Nations hosted Stop Violence against Children through Positive Parenting on 18 November 2011. Two days later, on 20 November 2011, of the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children was observed in 72 countries – a record number.
Last year, the World Day provided children in scores of countries the opportunity to express their concerns. In Lebanon, 125 children replaced Members of Parliament for a day, so they could articulate their aspirations for peace in their region. In Romania, where bullying is a concern, a series of workshops allowed teenagers to explore ways to stop violence in their schools.
As it looks forward toward its fifth World Day, the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children hopes to expand the scope of its Stop Violence against Children theme by promoting the non-violent discipline of children. Local organizations said last year that they would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with religious communities in eradicating corporal punishment in the schools and home.
Less than five years after its first World Day, the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children has growing year-round influence and is inspiring other groups to develop local and regional plans to combat violence against children. This influence is a result of the World Day’s emphasis on partnering with world religious leaders and their communities, according to the group’s evaluation report.
Arigatou International, an international faith-based NGO (which was created in 1990 by the Japanese Buddhist organization Myochikai), founded the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children in 2008.