Since elementary school, Rita Riadh-Issa has been active in the organisation.
“I was in year five at the school Björnkärrskolan in Linköping, when I first came in contact with World’s Children’s Prize and the textbook called the Globe, which all the participating children use, in many different languages. Being able to work with these issues has meant so much to me. All through the first years of elementary school I was quite quiet, and felt very different. When I started working with WCP I became another person”, Rita says.
She was only six months old when her family fled from Iraq. They came to Sweden when she was five years old.
How has it affected you?
“I don’t remember any of the journey, but it has affected me. I’ve felt different, and we’ve talked a lot about being the first generation in our family to have a university education. When I got accepted to the programme in commercial law at LiU, I understood how much it meant to me and my parents. They have always told me and my siblings that we have to study.”
The WCPF programme educates and supports children, to help them stand up for compassion, everybody’s equal value, children’s rights, democracy and sustainable development. The majority of the participants are vulnerable children in poor and fragile states, who, for the first time, learn that they have rights and can make their voices heard.
The World’s Children’s Prize Foundation selects Child Rights Heroes, with the support of some 74,000 schools in 119 countries. These heroes are people who, in various ways, have worked to improve the situation of children worldwide. In Sweden, 30,000 children take part in this every year, many of them in Linköping, Norrköping, Motala and other towns in the region of Östergötland.
“It’s an exercise in democracy and how to influence. Each year, children in different countries hold press conferences after millions of children have voted for the Child Rights Hero who will receive the World’s Children’s Prize. Together with a friend, I held our school’s first press conference”, Rita says.
Since then she has participated in WCPF’s main conferences, and met Child Rights Heroes from other countries. For five years she was a member of the WCP Youth Advisory Board, and since then a coordinator in the youth council. Now that she is on the board, she hopes to be able to make even more of a difference.
“I hope my engagement will last my entire life. It has become such a large part of who I am.”
What do children need today?
“It’s easy to forget that kids can make decisions. Kids can perceive the world around them. What’s needed is that they are included in decision-making. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is an important tool, which is now also law in Sweden”, says Rita.
What are your plans after you finish your master’s in commercial law at LiU?
“I think I want to work with insurance matters or labour law. But I’ll always maintain my engagement in child rights.”
World’s Children’s Prize Foundation (WCPF) receives support from Svenska Postkodlotteriet (lottery), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, ForumCiv, H M Queen Silvia’s Foundation Care About the Children, Survé Family Foundation, Crown Princess Margareta’s Memorial Fund, Sparbanksstiftelsen Rekarne and the Bergqvist Family’s Foundation.
See more (external website): https://worldschildrensprize.org/