What We Do

The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children is celebrated annually on or around 20 November, Universal Children’s Day.

The World Day is an opportunity for both prayer and action on behalf of children. It presents an occasion for diverse religious communities and people of faith everywhere, guided by their respective religious teachings and values, to express hope and determination through prayer, meditation, and worship that the world be made fit for children.

Multi-faith gatherings can bring together people of different faiths to pray and recommit themselves to working for children’s well-being. Prayers and meditations can be held in places of worship and veneration on a common theme that relates to the well-being of children and protection of their rights.The World Day is an opportunity for civil society, including faith-based organizations and religious leaders, governments and inter-governmental organizations to take common action to stop violence against children.

Action and advocacy undertaken on the World Day is inspired by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

Why Participate in the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children?

Participating in a World Day of Prayer and Action can:

  • Raise the profile of the urgent needs of children in your community and region.
  • Achieve greater results for meeting the needs of children.
  • Advance the mission of your organization.

All of the world’s major faith traditions share a common concern for the welfare of children. For interested religious leaders and faith-based organizations participating in a World Day of Prayer and Action can:

  • Advance multi-faith collaboration to achieve tangible results for children.
  • Assemble people of different faiths to re-dedicate themselves to working for children’s well-being.

For interested government and inter-governmental organizations participating in a World Day of Prayer and Action can accelerate and magnify their efforts to help children worldwide.

In many places, faith-based organizations are the best way to reach the most vulnerable populations.

  • Religious leaders are influential moral examples for their communities.
  • Religious communities provide an existing infrastructure for service delivery.
  • Religious leaders and communities can tap existing communication networks to advance child welfare.

Working together, governments, secular and faith-based organizations can have a greater impact on issues affecting child welfare than organizations working alone.

The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children invites all people of faith and goodwill to work together to build the world fit for children. There is space for everyone to contribute. YOU can make a difference!

Supporters of the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children are guided by ethical values and religious teachings, inspired by the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Protecting Children from Violence and Exploitation

1) Protecting children through universal birth registration.

Each year, 51 million children are unregistered, mostly in developing countries. (UNICEF)

Without documentation, children risk being denied basic rights to education, healthcare, employment, and nationality, and are more vulnerable to trafficking, forced marriage, abuse, and exploitation.

As part World Day in Nigeria, UNICEF organized a national workshop with key religious leaders to engage religious communities as advocates for universal birth registration. The workshop developed a joint work plan with the National Population Commission to improve birth registration in local communities.

2) Promoting positive parenting and non-violent discipline.

Three out of four children under 14 experienced some form of violent discipline at home.2

Positive parenting rejects violent discipline and allows children to grow up in a safe environment. In Sri Lanka, over 500 community leaders, religious leaders, and young people came together at a World Day of Prayer and Action for Children event, organized by the Sarvodaya Movement and UNICEF, to raise awareness of the negative effects of corporal punishment as a form of discipline.

3) Ending child marriage.

Child marriage puts children, especially girls, at higher risk of exploitation and abuse, and of violations of their rights to health and education, among others.

UNICEF describes early marriage as the most prevalent form of sexual abuse and exploitation of girls, affecting one out of every three girls in developing countries.

Every year, 10 million girls under the age of 18 are married, putting them at high risk for domestic violence, as well as injury or death from sexual activity and childbearing.

Estimates of the prevalence of child marriage indicate it is a persistent practice in many parts of the world.

As part of World Day, the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya helped organize an interfaith prayer and action meeting for children aimed at sensitizing the community and promoting public discussion of birth registration, and the prevention of child marriage.

The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children is part of the growing global movement to end violence against children in its many forms, including child labor, the trafficking and abuse of children, children in armed conflict and child poverty. 

Information is essential for every leader who wants to take action and do it well. That is why the World Day offers its compact “ABCs of Action and Advocacy” series online. Each title provides a “big picture” overview on a particular issue followed by progress to date and action ideas. Brief stories, quotes, and facts are offered that can be easily shared. And further resources are listed, to connect you with the global community of child advocates at work on the issues.