By Carmela Martinez
A Filipina teenage youth leader will be featured as a speaker in the 30th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) that will be held in Palais des Nations (Palace of the Nations) in Geneva, Switzerland on September 16.
Zcyrel Barola is a 17-year-old child leader from Sorsogon, who started advocating children’s rights when she was 13 years old. She is also a member of Educo Philippines, a nongovernment organization that defends the rights of children in the country with a focus on education.
“Since I was 13, I was a part of our organization and with that I was also able to participate with series of activities for the children,” she said in an interview with ANC’s Dateline Philippines.
Aside from the Philippines, Educo is also active in 13 other countries, according to Grekka Sarmiento, communications and advocacy officer at Educo Philippines who was also present in the interview.
“We work with local government units on child-friendly local governance so what they do is, they plan with children, they budget with children, and that’s what Zcyrel has been able to do,” Sarmiento said.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child started in September 1889 and it is the world’s most widely ratified human rights treaty in history that ensures that every child has every right.
It contains the idea where childhood is separate from adulthood and treats children as an individual deserving of their own rights. It considers childhood as a protected time where children must be allowed to grow and develop with dignity.
“The UN had this goal to make the UNCRC as child-friendly as possible and with that take hold the attention of 90 organizations globally and one of them was EDUCO Philippines,” Barola said.
Sarmiento said the UN called for applications for child advisors earlier in the year and they managed to find Barola in their profiles. Barola and 9 other child advisors from other countries were selected over 90 organizations involved globally.
She and the other nine were working with organizations in Geneva to develop the child-friendly version of the UNCRC from February to July.
Three of them would be in the convention to present their development.
“We are always making it to a point to make a movement to let not just the children but the people around the children to know and to recognize their rights and the convention is not just about the rights of children but the responsibilities of the people around the child, “ Barola said when asked what entailed the new UNCRC.
Barola said it was important for children to understand the UNCRC because it was made for them.
Borola along with another child advisor from Mexico will deliver a 15-minute presentation about the child-friendly version of the convention.