Bicolana teen selected as speaker at UN event in Geneva

A Bicolana child leader from Donsol, Sorsogon in the Philippines arrived in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday to represent children in the Philippines and around the world at the UN event commemorating the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Zcyrel Barola, 17, is among the three child advisors chosen to speak and present at the UN event. The Filipino teen arrives in Geneva with Educo Philippines, her supporting organization, to join two other child delegates from Mexico and Canada.

“I feel happy working with kids just like myself. It’s been my dream to represent children not only in the Philippines [but also across the globe] in an international platform. There is fulfillment and satisfaction when you are part of something really big,” said Zcyrel, who has been working with Educo Philippines on child-friendly local governance projects in the Bicol Region. She also serves as the President of the Donsol Children’s Federation.

The event gathers various UN agencies, states and national human rights institutions, professionals working on children’s rights and children themselves will reflect on the implementation and achievements of the Convention in the past 30 years.

The UNCRC is the world’s most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. It marked the global recognition and commitment to respect, fulfill and protect children’s rights. In the Philippines, it is the benchmark in developing child rights-based plans and policies for Filipino children.

In early 2019, Child Rights Connect and UNICEF announced a call for applications to its network organizations in search of child leaders who will support the development of a child-friendly version of the UNCRC. Child Rights Connect coordinated consultation meetings from February to July with child advisors selected from nine countries.

For Zcyrel, creating a UNCRC version for children is crucial.

“Adults made this (the Convention). The words are for adults. I think Conventions about and for children should be understood by the children themselves,” she said. “I want children to read the UNCRC and realize that this is for them. Once you’re aware of your rights, you can claim them and protect yourself”.