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A historic day for street children

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Ten years ago, StreetInvest was established in order to achieve one goal: for a trustworthy adult in the life of every street child.

We are delighted to share the news that this month the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has published General Comment 21 on Children in Street Situations.

For the first time ever, street children are the focus of authoritative United Nations guidance to States on how to uphold the rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC). Importantly for StreetInvest, the General Comment acknowledges the role of “trustworthy adult street workers” in ensuring these children enjoy the respect, dignity and acceptance they deserve.
How did we get here?
A key part of StreetInvest’s work is to inform and influence all those who impact on the lives of street children, to ensure that the voice and experience of street children is at the centre of all decisions which affect their lives.

We congratulate the unstinting efforts of the Consortium for Street Children (CSC), without whom this would never have happened. We also want to thank our staff and our partners for their involvement in the process and our supporters for believing in the importance of making this happen, including:
  • The Growing up on the Streets team, who not only used their research to inform their own submission to the General Comment Consultations but also facilitated the CSC Africa Consultation through the research network, in addition to their contribution to the expert consultations in the lead up to the General Comment.
  • Our partners around the world who contributed to the consultations including Glad’s House, CINI, Friends of the Street Children, Street Child of Sierra Leone and Street Child United, as well as Dieudonné from Burundi who spoke so eloquently at the UN in 2014. 
  • Our Co-CEOs: Duncan who, in his role as Director and subsequently Trustee of CSC, lobbied in New York, Brussels, Geneva and through the wider network for this to happen; and Kate, who is one of 12 members of the Consortium’s Advocacy Forum who reviewed and inputted into the drafting of the general comment and was formerly Acting Director of the CSC at a time when the likelihood of the General Comment was by no means certain.
  • Special mention must go to our co-founder Patrick, who was relentless in his fight to get the UN Committee to sit up and listen to street children.
This is a proud moment for the whole sector and for the team at StreetInvest. It marks a turning point in a long journey. In the words of current CSC CEO, Caroline Ford:

“This is also a personal victory for many of you - the culmination of years of hard work. I am sure that you may have even wondered throughout the years if we would ever get to this day. To those of you that forged the path all the way from thinking that this might be a good idea to convincing others that it just might be possible, to getting the CRC to agree, to arranging all the consultations with thousands of children to make sure their voices of heard - this is your success. It really is a monumental occasion. To have definitive legal advice from the highest international body on children's human rights come out explicitly and clearly stating how to make the CRC real for street-connected children is a new bar and a new opportunity for us.”

What next?
This is by no means the end of the journey, but the start of a new chapter; for both our own work and for the children and young people we aim to support. Newly armed with the clarity, guidance and credibility afforded by the General Comment, we move forward to continue to influence policy and practice so that street children are safer, have an increased sense of belonging and greater access to their rights. We will update you all on our plans over the coming weeks and months.

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