Press Statement Day of the African Child
Students and Youth Working on Reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT) in collaboration with Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children (ZNCWC) and the Child Rights Coalition (CRC) join the rest of the continent in commemorating the Day of the African Child, a day that is celebrated on the 16th of June every year to observe the 1976 student uprising in Soweto, South Africa, where students who marched in protest against apartheid-inspired education were brutally murdered.
As we commemorate this year’s theme of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child @30, “Access to a Child-Friendly Justice System in Africa”, the coalition calls for a serious reﬂection and commitment towards addressing the numerous challenges that the African Child faces. We commend the Government of Zimbabwe for the strides it has made in addressing the realisation of children’s rights and through the Constitution amendment 20 of 2013 Section 81 and subsequent alignment of laws. We need to continue to strive to have an equal and conducive environment for all if we are to achieve the Africa we want – an Africa where there is Access to a Child-Friendly Justice System.
The coalition also calls on the Government to continue upholding and protecting children’s rights by ensuring that those committing, overseeing, or ordering violations against children are brought to justice and held accountable for their actions. The government also needs to ensure that every child that is abused receives practical help and support to cope, recover and rebuild their lives as well as ensuring that they have access to good quality and inclusive education for all children.
The coalition continues to advocate for continuous enforcement and observance of laws to protect children’s rights. Over the years, children have often been exposed to common violations of their rights such as abduction, denial of educational opportunities, child labour, subjection to violence, early marriages, exposure to sexual exploitation, and drug abuse. There is a need to bring an end to these vices forthwith if we are going to achieve having a country and continent where children’s rights are observed. The beneﬁts of achieving this cannot be overemphasized. We all a future Africa where investing in children is a priority. To improve childhood development, governments must demonstrate a continuous commitment to the SDGs such as SDG 1, 4, 5 and 16 just to name a few and Commit to “Leave No One Behind” by developing or strengthening strategies, allocating resources to improve children and youth’s health and education outcomes, protecting them from violence and empowering all of them especially girls to reach their full potential.
We also need to ﬁght certain African cultures that rank children based on their gender and in the process making the female child become perceived as less important as compared to her male counterpart. It is time we start viewing children using the same lenses by providing equal opportunities for children of both sexes. We also need to ensure that adequate policies are in place supported by adequate budgets for their full implementation to ensure no girl misses school due to menstruation. Period poverty should never be an excuse for our girls not to attend classes. The same plight also goes to children with disabilities. Policies to protect them need to continue to be observed and ensure they get equal opportunities like their able-bodied counterparts.
It takes a village to raise a child, this practice must remain as an integral part of developing children in Africa. As we celebrate this year’s Day of the African Child let us make a diﬀerence to ensure there is a positive change for the African Child.