Day of the African Child: Promoting the realisation of the rights of the child
Maputo, 16 June 2008 – Every year on 16 June, African countries unite to celebrate the Day of the African Child. In Mozambique, this year’s celebrations are centered on the rights of the child, most specifically the creation of an improved legal framework for Mozambican children following the recent approval of the Children’s Act.
The new legislation, which is expected to come into force later this year, reflects a renewed commitment for the realisation of the rights of children in the country by looking at the rights of children in a holistic manner – in their family environment, at school or anywhere else – in accordance with the principles established in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The various initiatives organised around the Day of the African Child this year aim at raising awareness of the Children’s Act and child rights in general, and bring together the Government and a range of civil society organisations.
The kick-off ceremonies were held on 1 June in Niassa Province with the participation of the First Lady of Mozambique and the Minister of Women and Social Action, among others.
Throughout the two weeks, a wide range of cultural and recreational activities were organised with and for children throughout the country, such as theater performances, exhibitions and debates on the right of the child. The media – including community radio, child to child radio and multimedia mobile units – has been producing special programming around the rights of the child.
More than 33 000 fact sheets on the new legislation and on the rights of the child were produced with UNICEF and partners support and distributed in all 11 provinces to support advocacy activities.
The First National Conference of the Child-Friendly Journalists Network, supported by UNICEF, was held from 11-13 June, bringing child-friendly journalists from all the provinces of the country. The participants discussed issues related to the Children’s Act and the role of the media in the promotion and protection of the rights of the child, among other themes.
In collaboration with AWEPA, a series of roundtables activities are being conducted with UNICEF support in several provinces. The activities involve the participation of children, child rights organisations and municipalities, and focus on disseminating information and holding discussions on the new legislation, and about the Declarations and Action plans of Africa Fit for Children (Cairo +5) and World Fit for Children +5 to promote better child-friendly policies in all sectors affecting children; and enhanced dialogue between municipalities, civil society and children.
As part of the child rights celebrations, and to mark the Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an exhibition of photographs taken by children is also being organised by UNICEF – in partnership with the US organisation Venice Arts, the Mozambican organisation Reencontro, UNICEF, the African Millennium Foundation, and the Mozambican Association of Photography – to raise awareness of their right to participate and express their opinion on issues that affect them.
The project is a social art initiative that explores the impact of AIDS on communities as experienced through the eyes of children. The children participating in the initiative learned how to tell their stories through photography with a team of professional photographers.
The project brought together 15 orphaned children who are raising their young siblings and six teen activists who are using different ways to address social and public health issues in their communities – as radio and TV producers, as actors in community theatre groups or as peer counsellors in youth-friendly health centres.