AWEPA regional seminar Mozambican Parliamentarians and Municipal Authorities for Child Rights
Maputo, April 2007- Parliamentarians, representatives of the Child Parliament, Government, municipalities, civil society and international development partners gathered in Maputo on 24 and 25 April to participate in the conference 'Mozambican Parliamentarians and Municipal Authorities for Child Rights: Celebrating 15 years of AWEPA'.
Organised by European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA) and UNICEF, the conference was a follow up to the regional seminar for lusophone parliamentarians 'Scaling up Parliamentary Efforts for Children and AIDS', held last year in Maputo.
The conference reviewed the overall situation of children’s rights in Mozambique and the actions taken by parliamentarians and municipality representatives since last year's conference. It aimed to mobilize parliamentarians and local elected authorities in promoting child rights and in fighting childhood poverty in Mozambique.
Despite significant progress achieved over the past decades, childhood poverty and disparities are constraining the realization of children’s rights for almost half of Mozambican children. Children living in poverty face deprivations of many of their rights: to survive, to develop, to participate, and to be protected.
According to the report Childhood Poverty in Mozambique: A Situation and Trends Analysis, launched by UNICEF in December 2006, the deprivations-based measure indicates that 49 per cent of children in the country are living in absolute poverty, with significantly higher levels in rural areas – 63 per cent – than in urban areas – 20 per cent.
This means that almost half of Mozambican children do not have access to two or more of the following rights: nutrition, water, sanitation, healthcare, shelter, education and information. Where a child does not have access to one of these rights, it is considered as severe deprivation. As the report finds out:
In this context, the conference identified possible constraints and next steps in the implementation of the actions agreed at last year’s regional seminar, and also discussed AWEPA’s role in facilitating the efforts of the Parliamentarians and Municipal authorities for the realization of children’s rights in Mozambique.
This year’s conference was also a celebration of 15 years of AWEPA presence in Mozambique. AWEPA’s involvement in peace building, reconciliation and democratization process in Mozambique dates back to the mid-1990s.
In the past two years, HIV/AIDS and gender equality has become a priority in the AWEPA programme. One the key actions by AWEPA in this regard was the launching in 2004 of a multi-year campaign on Children and AIDS in cooperation with UNICEF, the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and other partners. The campaign aims to enhance parliamentary efforts in scaling up programmes for children affected and infected by HIV/AIDS. Four regional seminars were already organized in this context ─ Cape Town (May 2005), Lilongwe (September 2005), Nairobi (November 2005), and Maputo (March 2006).