“Hope For Children” CRC Policy Center’s Children’s Rights Ambassador and student of the American International School in Cyprus, Kasra Mulot, was proudly selected to attend a conference on the rights of the child and the future in Europe, in Strasbourg France, organized by the Council of Europe.
Young Kasra, attended the conference titled “Redefining Power: Strengthening the Rights of the Child as the Key to a Future-proof Europe”, which was organised to mark the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and to review the mid-term evaluation of the Strategy. The conference brought together over 300 state representatives, ombudspersons for the rights of the child, civil society members and international experts and 13 children aged 11-17 years who were selected from 47 member states to represent the voice of children across Europe.
The conference discussions were focused on equal opportunities, participation, a life free from violence, child-friendly justice and the rights of the child in the digital environment, for all children. There, Kasra had to opportunity to speak about child abuse, on reasons why children do not speak up against violence and provided solutions to tackle this important issue. The most important of all was that Kasra Mulot had the opportunity to raise awareness and advocate for children rights in a high profile conference.
Let’s discover more about this wonderful opportunity that Hope For Children and Cyprus received to speak in front of Europe on Children’s rights.
- First of all, Kasra, congratulations on the excellent speech you gave on The Power of Speaking up against Violence at the conference. We were so proud of you, representing our Organization and the voice of children in Cyprus. How did you feel?
Thank you. It was really a life changing experience. I had prepared so much for it as you know from one and a half months before, but I still didn’t know what to expect until I got there. First of all being in the Council of Europe building itself was pretty impressive and then meeting all the top people in children’s rights was just really inspiring. There were over 300 people at the conference! I was on a panel about the power of speaking up against violence and putting an end to violence against children. My speech was on the Power of Speaking up against Violence and I elaborated on the reasons children most often do not speak up against violence and provided possible solutions to overcome this. I also discussed the case of Cyprus and what we are doing here about violence against children. I have to say I was pretty nervous speaking in front of so many adults and professionals but I think I did well.
- What priorities were discussed regarding children’s rights at the conference?
I would say that the top priority was child participation and giving a voice to children and how every country needs to realize how unique and invaluable the contribution of children can be. As one of the speakers in the conference mentioned, young people are not part of the solution, they ARE the solution. Other priority areas discussed were violence free lives for children, child-friendly justice, equal opportunities for all children and something there was a lot of emphasis on was the rights of the child in the digital environment.
- As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, why do you think children need their own rights?
Children are full human beings in their own right. They have their own lives and experiences and most importantly, they are more vulnerable with less experience than adults. They should be entitled to the same rights as adults and even more.
- What is your favorite right?
Before I became an ambassador I would say my favourite right was the right to play, however now, I can definitely say my favourite right it the right to be heard. I think no one can decide better than children about children. We are brave, dynamic, fearless, and full of hope and energy and we have a lot to offer.
- What was the highlight of the conference for you?
The best part of the conference was the group of 12 other children who were participating like myself. There were children from Albania, Germany, Malta, Serbia, Ireland, France, Georgia, UK and Ukraine. Each of them was involved in an NGO related to children in their own country and each one covered a particular topic on children’s rights. They were a wonderful group of children and we bonded and worked well together because we all had the same goal. It was also really eye opening to see other practices from their countries and share what works in our country and how we can face the challenges we have.
- What have you brought back from the conference?
There are a lot of things that I’d like to do and suggest to Hope For Children, to our CRC Campus Club, to my school the American International School in Cyprus and to the government of Cyprus. It was reassuring to see from what was discussed in the conference that Cyprus is on the right track because there has been a lot of positive changes regarding children’s rights but still there’s lots more to be done. I would say that the number one thing is to raise more awareness about children’s rights in general. I think that once children are actually aware of their rights and also where to turn to in case their rights are violated, they will be more inclined to speak up. We need to educate everyone, children, parents, teachers, the government and anyone who has to do with children.
- As an Ambassador what would you like to say to children, adults and the government of Cyprus on children’s rights and protection?
First of all to children I would like to say that the future belongs to us. If we believe in our own power we can really make a difference. Don’t be afraid to speak up, whether you have been abused, your basic rights have been violated in some way or simply if you just want to make a tiny change. Every little bit counts and together we can make a difference. To the adults, parents or teachers, I would like to say, educate yourselves on the rights of children and especially in the digital environment and be more involved with your children. And to the government and law makers of the country, I would like you to give us children more of a voice and not just listen to us but to also HEAR!
- Anything else you would like to add?
I would like to encourage children to become Children’s Rights Ambassadors through their schools CRC Campus Clubs, which really give you the right tools and knowledge to know your rights and responsibilities, protect yourself and be able to raise awareness and make a change. I am very grateful to “Hope For Children” CRC Policy Center and the Council of Europe to have given me this amazing opportunity to participate in this conference and to be able to make a small difference on my own.