To mark the end of their Perspectives series, UNICEF On Campus hosted a panel discussion with three previous speakers on the 5th of April. The topic was children’s issues and the panelists delivered diverse perspectives rooted in their individual backgrounds which made the discussion lively, engaging, and informative. UNICEF has, once again, been able to host a successful event to broaden our minds regarding the issues facing our world today.
The discussion began with the main topic of the panel as the participants were asked if, in their opinion, children today are marginalized or prioritized. The three agreed that, while there is definite room for improvement in terms of self-advocacy and education, children today are prioritized to a higher degree than they were in the past. From there, the moderators turned to the United Nations’ 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child as the framework for the rest of the discussion.
Ben Sachs, of the School of Philosophy, argued for supporting children in conflict situations with the following quote: “Children are morally innocent… Children cannot be held responsible for what’s happening around them.” He went on to argue, in a seemingly unfeeling but realistic statement, that purely economically, it makes the most sense to invest in children over other people. Giving children food, shelter, and education, he said, is an investment in the future.
Alasdair Gordon-Gibson, a research post-graduate with years of experience with the Red Cross, used his involvement in refugee camps to discuss the realities facing displaced children. He emphasized the need to “give them a chance to exist as children” while explaining how refugee children are often forced to work, exploited, married at a young age, and more.
Dr. Arthur Morris, who has spent spent time volunteering his services in Ghana and who is an honorary senior lecturer in the School of Medicine, brought this medical experience to the table. He discussed the importance of planning for every outcome, citing the implementation of programs to combat high maternity death rates in former British colonies which led to an unintended boom in the birth rates of those countries.
On one last, light-hearted note, the discussion turned to entertainment. The Sarajevo National Theater remaining open during the Bosnian war; troops in Afghanistan encouraging cricket during the war; and, seemingly most ridiculously, the organization Clowns without Borders were all used as examples of how people attempt to inject normalcy into their lives during crises. As Gordon-Gibson pointed out, “we find creative humanity, still, in the midst of crisis.”