Child Fund commemorates the Day of the African Child
Friday, July 05, 2013
Child Fund the Gambia in partnership with six local partners in the Gambia on Tuesday commemorated the Day of the African Child at the Women’s Federation Nursery School on the theme ‘Eliminating harmful social and cultural practices affecting children; Our collective responsibility’.
16 June is noted as the Day of the African Child in remembrance of the massacre of innocent children in Soweto by the then Apartheid regime in South Africa. This day has been commemorated on 16 June every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the organisation of African Unity, now the African Union.
The federation manager of Saamasamg, Edrisa Cham, said that eliminating harmful social/cultural practices affecting children is a collective responsibility of the government, families, civil society and children themselves. Despite the existence of global, continental, regional and national legal and child policy frame works, he added, harmful social/cultural practices such as early marriage, FGM, among others still persist with lack of comprehensive strategies to eliminate them.
He therfore called for more awareness campaigns and the strengthening of mechanisms and institutions in place both financially and humanly in order to realise the theme of the commemoration. Cham stressed the need to take necessary and urgent steps to protect children from injurious practices that affect the welfare, dignity, normal growth and development of a child.
For his part, Famara Darboe, deputising for the acting director of Child Fund, said that, the Day of the African Child (DAC) is firstly an occasion to recall the 1976 uprisings in Soweto, when a protest by school children in South Africa against apartheid-inspired education resulted in the brutal and deadly repression of these unarmed young protesters by police officials.
He added that, the DAC further presents an opportunity to reflect on the lived realities of children in Africa. “It allows caregivers focus on the work of all actors committed to the rights of children on the continent, to consolidate their efforts in addressing the obstacles towards the realizing the rights of children. The DAC also provides an occasion for governments, international institutions and communities to renew their on-going commitments towards improving the plight of marginalized and vulnerable children.
According to him, the general objective of the celebration of the DAC in 2013 is to call attention to harmful social and cultural practices against children and highlight the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders, as well as showcasing the roles and responsibilities of state parties to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in order to combat and eliminate harmful practices against children in Africa.
Darboe revealed that Child Fund as one of the leading child protection and development agency in the Gambia is highly committed to the holistic development of children. “Our programmes covered the support and protection of all children from infancy through to adulthood. Currently, Child Fund is implementing a two-year project on the Prevention and Response to Child Trafficking in the Gambia funded by US government,” he disclosed.
Author: Fatoumatta K Saidykhan