As G8 leaders prepare for their annual summit, to be held 6 July in Scotland, a group of young delegates are also gathering in the UK for a landmark meeting.
The C8 Children’s Forum
UNICEF will host the first-ever C8 Children’s Forum in Dunblane 3-5 July, immediately before the G8 leaders meet. The C8 is a children and young people’s version of the G8 meeting. During the summit, ‘under-eighteen’ advocates from eight of the world’s poorest countries - Bhutan, Cambodia, Moldova, Yemen, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Lesotho and Bolivia - will meet with their counterparts from G8 countries - Russia, France, Italy, Germany and the UK - to debate, discuss and firmly place their issues on the agenda of the G8 leaders.
Seventeen-year-old Polina Panainte is from the Republic of Moldova. In her village, Lapusna, Polina leads a non-governmental organisation which advocates for the prevention of child violence and exploitation. Many Moldovan children are abandoned by their parents, who often go abroad looking for jobs.
“In my country, a lot of children are left without parents’ care because their parents are abroad working. Children are not stupid and they know it doesn’t have to be like that. It is not fair when there is something that can be done. G8 leaders should use their powers to change things. I would like them to listen to children. I would like them to listen to me. My message is, ‘It’s time to make child poverty history’,” she says.
Aminata Palmer, representing Sierra Leone, is the youngest C8 participant this year. At age eleven, she expresses concern about the numerous children in her country who are dying before their fifth birthday. Aminata urges G8 leaders to help “give children quality education and good medical health facilities and to also stop child discrimination.”
Zoya Elagina, from Russia, believes unity is the way to achieve peace across the globe.
“It’s very bad when we try to separate the world into some different parts like Big Eights, Big Sevens and etcetera. We should be united, we should be together. And only then it is possible to create a peaceful world to live in,” says the seventeen-year-old, who is particularly interested in the issue of children and HIV/AIDS.
In response to the current global agenda, C8 themes will reflect issues around three key areas:
* Millennium Development Goals
* The Africa Commission recommendations
* Make Poverty History themes of trade, aid and debt
Topics can be summarised as:
* Children and HIV/AIDS
* Education – girls’ education, free primary education
* Health – improving health systems and reversing the spread of diseases such as malaria
* Hunger and nutrition
* Exploitation – child labour, trafficking, sexual exploitation, conflict and violence
* Governance and democratisation
Young people’s manifesto
In a formal public forum session on the last day of their summit, the C8 leaders will present a manifesto of recommendations to be passed onto their G8 counterparts. In a world where an estimated 600 million children are living in absolute poverty, their hope is to help make child poverty history once and for all.