Child Rights’ Activists: Ensuring Welfare of the Future

- By Aryaki Sethi

Indians have been advocates for the rights of children and social upliftment since time immemorial. Trailblazers like Mother Teresa, Baba Amte, Jyotiba Phule, B.R. Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi have dedicated their lives to promote the representation of children from the poorest and most marginalized communities and in the process have become synonymous to empathy and welfare. Many others have followed in their footsteps to help and to hope for a better future for coming generations of the underprivileged.

A young boy from the small town of Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh would go on to receive a Nobel Prize for ‘the struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.’ This young boy, namely, Kailash Satyarthi was brought up in a community where Hindus and Muslims co-existed in harmony and was affected deeply by the inaccessibility of education to children due to poverty.

“There is no greater violence than to deny the dreams of our children,” says Satyarthi. Amongst his other achievements, he led the Global March against Child Labour traversing across 103 countries covering 80,000 km to demand an International Law on Worst Forms of Child Labour. The march eventually led to the adoption of ILO Convention No. 182 that went on to transform how child rights were viewed in the world. He devoted his life to providing education for all because he felt that this is the only road that can truly lead children out of factories and mines and to their dreams.

To educate our children is necessary, but is it enough? India has the highest number of child brides in the world with UNICEF estimating that 47% of girls in India are married before the age of 18, so it is clear that a lot more work remains to be done. Kriti Bharti, a 29-year-old rehabilitation psychologist has been the reason for the first-ever annulment of child marriage in India. She has founded the Saarthi Trust to help child brides escape the vicious cycle of sexual assault, human rights violations and lack of education and healthcare. When the goal is clear, challenges become stepping stones and despite the many death threats Bharti has received, she has been able to annul over 31 child marriages. Satyarthi, Bharti and many more such unsung heroes work tirelessly to protect the future of children whose lives are trapped in the dark corners of this unforgiving world.

The innocent smiles of these underfed children can only be protected when people lead with example. When we realise their efforts need to be supported and follow in their paths to do our little bit, a lot can change. There are plenty of laws such as article 24 on right against child labour but we all must partake to make these hopes a reality. We must protect them from exploitation, both outside and inside their homes. We must stand to encourage our children, irrespective of gender, to go to schools, to follow their dreams and most importantly, to live with dignity.


About the Author

Aryaki Sethi is a content writer and mental health advocate. She is currently pursuing Bachelor of Applied Science , Psychology and Health Sciences from the University of Toronto Scarborough.