March 21st, “Human Rights Day”

SOS Children’s Villages
SOS Children’s Villages

The month of March marks Human Rights Month, commemorated under the theme, “Three Decades of Respect for and Promotion of Human Rights”. Human Rights Day is on 21 March. Human Rights Month is observed to remind South Africans about the sacrifices that accompanied the struggle for democracy. Overall, Human Rights Month serves as a reminder of the ongoing work needed to uphold and protect human rights for all individuals, especially children.

Children and young people have the same general human rights as adults and specific rights that recognise their needs. Every child has the right to: A name and a nationality from birth. Family care or parental care, or to appropriate alternative care when removed from the family environment. Basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care services and social services.

According to the Centre for Child Law, “the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child set out the rights that must be realised for children to develop to their full potential.”

With these rights, also comes responsibilities: in using their human rights, children must respect the rights of others. No government, group or individual person has the right to do anything that violates another’s rights.

One of the most important rights for children in the Constitution, “is the right to have their best interests taken into account in every matter that concerns that child.” This means that in every matter where a child is involved, adults must consider the circumstances of children and make sure that their actions and choices are in the child’s best interests. This is stipulated in The Children’s Act: section 28.

This Day offers an opportunity to advocate, promote and celebrate children’s rights, translating into dialogues and actions that will build a better world for children. SOS Children’s Villages advocates for the rights of South Africa’s marginalised children.

At SOS Children’s Villages we offer, secure and loving care in a family setting, to children who have lost or are at risk of losing the care of their parents and cannot live with their biological family. It is our responsibility as an organisation to uphold and ensure our children are protected.

“The inclusion in the Bill of Rights of a special section on the rights of the child was an important development for the children. Children need special protection because they are among the most vulnerable members of society. They are dependent on others – their parents and families, or the state when these fail – for care and protection. As a result, the drafters of our Constitution have made children’s rights a priority – and have stated that the best interests of a child are the overriding concern when it comes to any matter affecting them. SOS Children’s Villages in South Africa calls for the implementation of all children’s rights,” says Kgomotso Loate: Child Safeguarding Officer at SOS Children’s Villages in South Africa.

For more information on our work, and to support our Child Protection efforts, please go to


About SOS Children’s Villages

SOS Children’s Villages is an independent, non-governmental organisation that advocates for the rights of South Africa’s marginalised children. We offer loving, family-like care for children and young people who have lost or are at risk of losing parental care. Established in 1984, SOS has eight Children’s Villages and three Social Centres across eight provinces.

Each year our Alternative Care, Family Strengthening and Youth Employability programmes provide life-changing support to children and families across the country.

The Alternative Care model comprises of four principles that include a mother (each child has a caring parent), brothers and sisters (the family ties grow naturally), a house (a secure place to grow up in) and a village (the SOS family is part of the community).

Our Family Strengthening Programme aims to enable children who are at risk of losing the care of their families to grow within a safe family environment. We work in co-operation with local authorities and other service providers to empower families and communities to effectively protect and care for their children.

For more information, go to