Message from Her Excellency Paula-Mae Weekes O.R.T.T., President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on World Children’s Day 2021:
Today is World Children’s Day, a platform to celebrate our youngest and most precious citizens and promote their happiness, freedoms and safety. It is also a golden opportunity for children to make their voices heard on issues that are important and relevant to their wellbeing and hold adults accountable for prioritising their rights and implementing the legal and social frameworks designed to serve and protect them.
One such framework is the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is the most widely-ratified human rights treaty in history. The Convention sets out the rights of human beings below the age of eighteen, including the right to life, nationality, education, family, and to express their views freely and seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds.
Empowering children to share their opinions and participate directly in matters that affect their welfare sets the stage for a brighter and more prosperous future. If young people learn from an early age the importance of being informed, engaged and involved in current affairs, they are likely to become responsible, valuable and productive members of the national and global community.
On October 5, 2021, I received a letter from a five-year-old girl named Moksha Roy who lives in the United Kingdom. She requested that I ask teachers in Trinidad and Tobago to teach children about the importance of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which are a collection of 17 interlinked universal goals aimed at achieving a better and more sustainable future for all. She firmly believes that, “children can do small things together and stop awful things like climate change and plastic pollution and make the world a better place for everyone”.
Moksha’s advocacy and passion for helping the planet is both inspiring and thought-provoking. She has stepped into action by writing to leaders around the world and urging them to do their part in achieving the sustainable development objectives. Other children can make a difference in their own way—by turning off the lights when not in use, encouraging their parents to recycle or start a garden, participating in clean-up drives or speaking out on issues which affect them. Many young activists such as Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg began their advocacy as children and continue to stimulate and evoke change on the global stage.
I encourage parents, teachers and other adults, in their households, classrooms, and communities to explore clear and exciting methods of explaining the Global Goals to children of all ages and to embolden them to dream up ways in which they too can help save the planet. Like Moksha, Malala and Greta, we all have a role to play in safeguarding the future and sustainability of our world.