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Inside of a cinema

Tomorrow is Ours: documentary film highlights children human rights defenders

26 November 2019

Amina, Anwarra, Cris, José, Paola, and Zack are children from the four corners of the world fighting for what they feel is right.

Whether they are standing up for victims of child labour, or trying to end forced marriages and extreme poverty where they live, these children are engaged on all fronts. They never ask themselves whether they are too young to stand up against injustice or violence. Instead, because of their resolve, they continue to turn the tide and inspire dozens of children around them.

The documentary film entitled Demain est à nous (Tomorrow is Ours) by French filmmaker, Gilles de Maistre, narrates these young defenders’ stories. It was screened in Geneva, Switzerland, as part of the celebrations to mark the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The film brought audiences to Bolivia, Guinea, India and Peru, on a journey to meet the children who have found the strength and courage to stand up for human rights.

The screening was a joint venture between UN Human Rights, Cine-ONU - an initiative of the UN Information Service in Geneva - and the NGO Terre des Hommes Switzerlandwho also sponsored the participation of two young human rights defenders from Dakar, Senegal.

During the debate that followed the screening, Sokhna Gueye, a young child rights defender from Dakar, Senegal, told the audience why they became human rights defenders in spite of their young age. It was only at the age of 12 that Sokhna had her birth registered. Before then, because she did not have a legal identity, her parents could not enrol her in school.

“I would see my neighbours go to school and thrive while I was stuck at home,” she said. “One day, a club from a school in my neighbourhood held an event for the other kids and I thought, “Why shouldn’t I go since I don’t go to school?” Sokhna recalled. There, she found out the children were having a cheerful discussion on their human rights.

“So I fought to get on the civil registration and enrolled in school. Later I joined the club and participated in trainings on children rights that made me realise their importance, to know how to stand up for my rights and those of my peers. I realised I did not want other children to go through what I went through, not going to school before the age of twelve. So I thought, why not fight for others like me?”

Sokhna has since been volunteering with Club EDEN, an organization in Dakar that promotes child participation and is partner of Terres des Hommes Switzerland. She is now the chair of the Committee of Child Experts on Children’s Rights and is regularly invited to give her views on child rights issues to local and national authorities.

“I always hear people say children are the future. They are not the future; children are the now!” Sokhna added.

Demain est à nous was released to European audiences in September 2019.

  • I will respect your rights regardless of who you are. I will uphold your rights even when I disagree with you
  • When anyone’s human rights are denied, everyone's rights are undermined, so I will stand up
  • I will raise my voice. I will take action. I will use my rights to stand up for your rights.

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