Two years ago I was introduced to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Being new to the field I was overwhelmed by the amount of information found. There were websites for social groups and advocates from every level - from grassroots to government. I was so empowered to use my voice to speak out for children in need - knowingly a white, middle-class, American woman.
Typically, social workers in the international community from developed countries work for rights violated in lesser developed countries. However, when it comes to the rights of children,
(arguably the most developed country) is the furthest behind. In recent months, we have seen Congress chase its own tail more and more publicly than anytime in the past decade. Government is so divided that even when given an ultimatum such as the recent sequestration escapade with the Super Committee it still can not come to a reasonable agreement. If Congress is unable to negotiate the vital components that keep our economy afloat, then how are the same people expected to keep the sanctity of the rights of our children alive – they can’t. This is why advocates, such as Hilary Clinton and Sen. Boxer stand as solitary beacons against the abysmal background of our government. America America is the only country other than Somalia not to ratify the CRC – and even has made motion to move towards ratification. Thus, Somalia , the leading developed nation, has left the rights of children behind in the wake of other “more important” crises. Understandably, this is a point that many will argue: America actually has many social services in place for children that other countries lack; America has implemented many of the articles without ratification when other ratified countries have not done so; America has scores of organizations focused on children's rights to negate the need to join the international community. All are valid arguments, however, I argue, that by not agreeing to ratification, we are not acting in accordance with the status quo we have actually set for our selves by consistently being the role model for the international community. For the moment, accept that America America has limited drive to ratify the CRC and let us look away from the to the international community. US
We turn to the United Nations as an entity for the international community to come together to discuss matters important from the multinational to personal levels. Some matters are discussed formally in venues such as the General Assembly while others are debated over in informal and community settings. The conversation over the CRC bridges all venues. It is a discussion on the floor of the General Assembly, implemented through the work of organizations such as UNICEF, discussed through committees, and implemented by the work of NGOs.
One committee within the UN system that works to ensure children's rights by taking practical steps to implement the CRC is the Working Group on Girls. The WGG is a group of dedicated women who work diligently to ensure the rights of girls are implemented in all communities worldwide. The WGG has been successful at facilitating numerous conferences, parallel events at the UN, created multiple factsheets, and submitting recommendations. Not only is the WGG a cohort of women advocating for children's rights, but they also provide the resources to empower girls to speak up for their rights through a program called the Girl Advocate. To return to the previous argument, the irony is that nearly all of the women who attend the monthly meetings are American (or at least are in America) yet their voice is clear and articulate to the UN community many times over the resonance of the voice within American policy chambers.
If the CRC is imperative to achieving the rights of girls across all boarders, and American women help to secure that right in the international community, how then do we bring it home and re-invigorate the American agenda towards ratification?