By Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan
The world is full of amazing children. Beautiful, bright, energetic and courageous children who, every day, overcome challenges and inspire us with their optimism and strength.
I’ve been lucky to meet many of them in my work as an advocate for UNICEF and education for all.
I remember Musu, a girl from Liberia, who bravely told me how her hand was blown off by a rocket in the war. She told me that she loves school and that she can write well. She said, “When I grow up, I want to be a doctor because a doctor helped me with my hand.”
And I’ll never forget Devli: a child labourer from India who was born into a stone quarry like her parents. Working more than twenty hours a day, Devli would carry rocks and be punished if she took a rest. After she was rescued, she enrolled in school and helped other girls to enroll too.
Musu and Devli are already shaping the future. But we need the ideas and voices of you amazing young people to shape the world we want post-2015. We want this process to be as fair and representative as possible.
There are many reasons why children must be at the heart of the post 2015 agenda. Perhaps the greatest one is that it’s you who’ll inherit the challenges that we’ve failed to address. Climate change, water shortages, unemployment, illiteracy, hunger, poverty, gender inequality and access to education to name a few. Your concerns must be heard and your ideas must be heeded because you’re part of the solution.
And let me make it clear: this is neither a token effort nor a symbolic gesture. This is a democratic process, as meaningful as it is ethical. Participants must be drawn from a broad cross-section of society: all continents, all social backgrounds and lifestyles, all levels of education, all ages and cultures, male and female. And the voices of the most vulnerable must be heard.
For it’s only when children and young people, like you, are part of the process that you’ll feel connected to it and have a stake in its success. If we’re to bring about the ambitious changes that the post-2015 agenda sets out, then that must be the spirit in which we all start.
Finally, as we bring young people together and reach out to others in innovative ways, our pledge to you is to make this process a blueprint for future youth participation. We’ll create more platforms so that you can share your views with each other and with decision- makers. And we know that your opinions as important now, at the outset, as they will be at the midway point and finish line, when we reflect on and measure our progress.
I look forward to listening to and learning from you all.
Rania Al Abdullah
For more information on the High Level Panel Report on the Post-2015 Development Agenda visit http://www.post2015hlp.org/