|© UNICEF Botswana/2011/Kelaotswe|
|Girls from the Botswana Society of the Deaf sculpt clay at the arts fair in Gaborone, Botswana.|
By Lillian Tjezuva
GABORONE, Botswana, 9 December 2011 – Sixteen years have passed since Botswana ratified the Convention on the Rights of a Child (CRC). To commemorate this anniversary, UNICEF organized an art fair for 50 children with disabilities. ‘Thari ya Bana – Reflections on the Children of Botswana 2011’, the second edition of a report on the situation of children in the country, was also launched to mark the occasion.
Child Rights Art Fair
The Child Rights Art Expressions Fair, held at Thapong Visual Arts Centre on 19 November 2011, gave children from care centres in and around Gaborone the opportunity to interact with artists and to express themselves through art.
They were able to draw, paint and sculpt at the event. They also designed a mural illustrating their dreams and views – a testament to their rights to expression and community participation.
Speaking to partners, parents and children at the event, UNICEF Representative in Botswana Dr. Doreen Mulenga said, “Choosing to engage children with disabilities was not a random act but a deliberate step taken to call on the government, development partners, civil society including the media sector, communities and families to join hands to ensure that all children in Botswana, irrespective of age, gender and disability can enjoy the human rights that are inherent to their human dignity.”
Thari ya Bana
Three days later, on 22 November 2011, ‘Thari ya Bana 2011’ was launched. It was the second edition of what has become an annual joint publication by the University of Botswana and UNICEF Botswana, part of an effort to encourage the generation of data, analysis and information on the situation of children.
|© UNICEF Botswana/2011/Kelaotswe|
|Assistant Minister of Local Government Maxwell Motowane attends the launch of 'Thari Ya Bana 2011'.|
At the event, Assistant Minister of Local Government Maxwell Motowane emphasized the importance of research on children and issues that affect their well-being.
Such research enables “us to, amongst others, identify which of our children are in most need, where they are and the nature of their needs, hence enabling us to address these gaps in order to have a Botswana fit for children,” he said. “This will also strengthen our international commitments to the overall achievement of child-targeted Millennium Development Goals,” he added.
Five authors of ‘Thari Ya Bana’ also spoke about key issues in the report, including child survival, child protection, HIV and AIDS, and social protection. Children were also represented at the event. Seventeen-year-old Oabona Disho, chairperson of the National Children’s Consultative Forum, and 16-year-old Gogontleng Phaladi, a youth activist and advocate, expressed their views about issues affecting the well-being of Botswana’s children.
Sustaining the principles of the CRC
The CRC, adopted in 1989, was the first international convention to affirm human rights for all children. With near-universal acceptance, it is the world’s most endorsed human rights treaty.
Botswana’s ratification of the CRC continues to have a powerful impact on the lives of children here. In 2009, the provisions of the CRC were adapted into national legislation through the Children’s Act No. 8. The implementation of this law continues to gain momentum, helping to advance and safeguard the health, safety and dignity of all Botswana’s children.