World Children’s Day: Thai Youths Making a Change

Established in 1954, World Children’s Day is celebrated every November 20. It aims to highlight the various circumstances that children face across the globe with the hope of “improving children’s welfare.” This year’s theme focuses on “Inclusion, For Every Child.”

Recent Developments

Progress has been made in regard to children’s well-being in the past decades. For instance, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has been signed by 195 countries, signaling their dedication to work toward ensuring that children’s rights are promoted and protected. The document states the rights that children are entitled to; notable articles include the following:

  • Article 7: Children’s right to a nationality,
  • Article 13: Children’s right to “freedom of expression,” and 
  • Article 24: Children’s right to grow in safe and healthy environments, particularly those free from pollution, amongst other dangers.

Thai Youths Making a Change

Across the country, numerous Thai youths are striving to make a difference in their communities. Fifteen-year-old Buay, for example, works with the Rak Dek Foundation. They help launch campaigns targeted at increasing awareness of LGBTQ+ rights, particularly those of “migrant and stateless children and youth living on the Thailand-Myanmar border.” In doing so, Buay works toward breaking down stigmas whilst taking on an intersectional approach as they acknowledge the unique experiences of being stateless and a part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Another individual making significant changes in her community is nineteen-year-old Khairiyah Rahmanyah. Coming from a village in southern Thailand, Khairiyah’s community heavily relies on the fishing industry as their “main source of livelihood.” This has been threatened by growing industrialisation in the area, particularly with the construction of a “natural gas pipeline between Thailand and Malaysia” locals’ lifestyles have been disrupted as a result of the project. In 2020, however, Khairiyah resisted by campaigning against the construction efforts. For example, she picketed and submitted a letter to the Prime Minister asking to him end the project. Consequently, the project has been temporarily halted.

The efforts of Buay and Khairiyah indicate the potential that youths have in making remarkable changes in their communities and beyond. It is crucial, therefore, they are empowered and included in decision-making processes to ensure that their experiences and perspectives are taken into consideration, especially when making decisions that will ultimately affect their lives.

– Isabelle Amurao


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