Inclusion can mean different things to different people, but it’s absolutely necessary if we want to create a better world. This World Children’s Day, as we focus on the right to a childhood free from discrimination and exclusion, we asked young activists from around the globe to reflect on what inclusion means to them, and to share why and how they advocate to create a world where everybody belongs.
"Inclusion is being one’s fullest self " – Adama Diallo
Adama Diallo is an 18-year-old activist who promotes girls’ rights, with a focus on ending harmful practices. She is from Dabo, Senegal.
For Adama, inclusion is about being one’s fullest self. "I really believe that no one should ever feel excluded – no matter who they are and where they come from. We should all feel included. Inclusion for me means I am my fullest self and that’s okay. That everyone is treated as human beings, with the dignity they deserve. Inclusion is the state of belonging, of feeling fully seen and heard," she writes.
"Inclusion is something that we can all contribute to" – Maria Alexandrova
Maria Alexandrova is 21-year-old Inclusive Education Advocate from Bulgaria who lives with Cerebral Palsy.
Maria believes “that everyone can contribute to making the world more inclusive.” "I urge policymakers and stakeholders to put young people first, regardless of their identity, and to please remember - we want to be active participants in what comes next. As for the youth, I ask you to continue fighting for the change you want to see in the world. It is truly in our hands," she writes.
"Inclusion means challenging the biases we grow up with" – Dominique, Romania
Dominique is a human rights activist from Romania who promotes gender equality and youth participation. She collaborates with UNICEF Romania. For Dominique, “inclusion is more than belonging, it also means challenging the biases we grow up with.”
"Resistance and rebellion are embedded in our youth, but we wish for a world where we wouldn’t have to trade childhood to fight for our existence," she writes.
"Inclusion is all about making a better space for every human being" – Cathrine Mantswe, Botswana
Cathrine is a 17-year-old girl who was recently appointed as UNICEF Botswana’s first youth advocate. She was diagnosed with a brittle bone disease and is currently using a wheelchair.
"Inclusion is all about accommodating people that have been historically left out due to their abilities, sexuality, race or age. It's about making a better environment for every human being to live peacefully. Inclusion is not bringing people into what already exists, but making a new space – a better space – for every human being," she writes.
"Inclusion is equal to the integration of people"
Yilda Banchón is a 20 year old Ecuadorian artist who promotes the participation of children and young people. She is a renowned pop singer with over 4.6 million followers on social media, and she has collaborated in several UNICEF Ecuador campaigns aimed at young people.
"For me, inclusion is equal to the integration of people, regardless of their social, economic, cultural status, their skin color or country of origin. Inclusion is simply a way of adapting and allowing someone to adjust to a new environment, respecting their ideas, ideologies and the views they have based on their personal experiences," she writes.