Here we are in the middle of another humanitarian crisis with millions fleeing their homeland. Pictures of the kids and those who try to keep the smiles to lessen fears. 100 years later and the innocent caught in the crossfire! Let’s make the next century one about the future for our kids, free from the worry and after-effects of conflicts.
This is an unconventional biography of an unconventional woman. Eglantyne Jebb moved from drawing rooms to war zones, often defying expectation and at times breaking the law. Although not fond of individual children, she founded Save the Children and originated the revolutionary concept of children’s human rights.
Eglantyne Jebb was a British social reformer who founded the Save the Children organization at the end of the First World War to relieve the effects of famine in Austria-Hungary and Germany. She drafted the document that became the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. The Declaration of the Rights of the Child lays down ten principles:
- 1. The right to equality, without distinction on account of race, religion or national origin.
- 2. The right to special protection for the child’s physical, mental and social development.
- 3. The right to a name and a nationality.
- 4. The right to adequate nutrition, housing and medical services.
- 5. The right to special education and treatment when a child is physically or mentally handicapped.
- 6. The right to understanding and love by parents and society.
- 7. The right to recreational activities and free education.
- 8. The right to be among the first to receive relief in all circumstances.
- 9. The right to protection against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation.
- 10. The right to be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, and universal brotherhood.
In 1923, Save the Children founder Jebb voiced her support for an international declaration that establishes universal rights for children by remarking that “I believe we should claim certain rights for the children and labor for their universal recognition, so that everybody—not merely the small number of people who are in a position to contribute to relief funds, but everybody who in any way comes into contact with children, that is to say the vast majority of mankind—may be in a position to help forward the movement.”
The Declaration on the Rights of the Child asserted that children have a right to food, health care, education and protection from exploitation. The Declaration took the bold step of asserting these rights for all children and made it the duty of the international community to put children’s rights in the forefront of planning.
Let’s make it so, not just on paper but in practice of humanitarian proportions! It starts with a vision and takes every one of us. Be part of the solution by rejecting wars and those who create them!
100 years ago, Save the Children’s founder, Eglantyne Jebb, had a vision: to achieve and protect the rights of children worldwide. She was driven by the belief that all children – whoever they are, wherever they are – have the right to a healthy, happy, fulfilling life. Her vision continues to guide us well into the 21st century.