Grim stories of conflict, abuse, and deprivation seem to confront us every day. That’s why at year’s end we like to highlight the progress made for children. Here are 10 good news stories for kids in 2023:
- For the first time, Rohingya children of all ages in refugee camps in Bangladesh were able to receive a formal education. A record 300,000 children enrolled in the Myanmar curriculum, a dramatic increase from 2021, when a pilot project reached just 10,000 children.
- Three US states—Connecticut, Vermont, and Michigan—banned child marriage, while Minnesota, New Mexico, and Illinois banned life without parole sentences for child offenders.
- Girls in Mexico gained greater access to abortion as Mexico’s Supreme Court ordered that Congress must eliminate federal criminal penalties for abortion.
- Sierra Leone enacted a far-reaching education law that prohibits corporal punishment, guarantees 13 years of free schooling, and protects the rights of pregnant and parenting students as well as students with disabilities.
- Australia and Guyana endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration, bringing the total to 118 countries that have committed to protect schools, teachers, and students during armed conflict.
- Iraq signed an action plan with the United Nations to prevent the recruitment and use of children as combatants by the Popular Mobilization Forces, a government-allied force that has previously used children to fight against the the extremist armed group Islamic State (also known as ISIS).
- European Union negotiators agreed on the text of a new law that will require companies to address human rights in their supply chains, including child labor and other child rights abuses.
- The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child launched authoritative guidance, drawing on inputs from 16,000 children in 121 countries, detailing governments’ obligations to protect children’s rights in the face of climate change and other environmental crises.
- Brazil, India, and the United States acted to protect the online privacy of millions of students by removing ad tracking from learning websites, ordering security audits, and fining online learning platforms for using children’s data for non-educational purposes.
- Bulgaria, Slovakia, South Africa, and Peru destroyed their stocks of cluster munitions, which disproportionately kill and injure children. All 112 states party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions have now fulfilled their obligation to destroy their stockpiles of these deadly weapons.
A great deal more still needs to be done for children, and 2024 will bring new challenges. Governments can’t rest on their laurels. They need to step up efforts to protect children and advance their rights.