World Day of Prayer and Action for Children to focus global celebrations on the world’s poorest
22 October 2010 — Religious leaders and child rights advocates around the globe will observe the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children on 20 November with celebrations aimed at improving the welfare of the planet’s most disadvantaged women and children.
In religious services, prayers and meditations from Sri Lanka to Tanzania, faith groups from every tradition will join forces with secular organizations, governments, NGOs and community groups in a global expression of hope, determination and concrete actions.
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.
Celebrated every year on 20 November to coincide with Universal Children’s Day, the World Day’s primary aim is 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.
The U.N. recently concluded that achieving the Millennium Goals by the deadline depends on reaching the poorest and most marginalized populations and working in partnership with all sectors of society. Key to this effort are the world’s religious communities, with their extraordinary moral authority, resources and ability to help set priorities for their members
The 2010 World Day’s main focus is to help reduce child mortality and improve maternal health, Millennium Development Goals #4 and 5 respectively. A particular emphasis is on exclusive breastfeeding, which has the potential to save the lives of 1.2 million children every year. Other activities address common challenges faced by many children including violence prevention and cross-cultural ethics education for children using the Learning to Live Together manual, which was developed in collaboration with UNICEF and UNESCO.
“Religious communities can play a crucial role in promoting the practice of breastfeeding, a critical step in preserving the lives and health of our planet’s newborns. With the trust and confidence of almost five billion people around the globe, the potential of religious communities to influence action is profound,” said Kul Chandra Gautam, founder of the World Day initiative and former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations.
More than 25 countries on five continents are expected to participate in the 2010 celebrations. In Lebanon, children from 18 faiths communities will submit a petition to Parliament on the dignity of the child; Somali religious leaders and elders will conduct interfaith prayer services; Kenyan participants will hold a peace march; Nepalese students and faith leaders from various traditions will conduct a children’s workshop and a poetry and art competition on child and maternal health themes; and, in Sri Lanka, religious, government and community leaders from around the nation will gather to launch a one-year child protection campaign.
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.
The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children was established in 2008 by the 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 Global Planning Committee includes the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC), founded by Arigatou International in 2000, Religions for Peace, UNESCO and UNICEF.
For further information, please contact:
Day of Prayer and Action for Children Secretariat