Rwanda was one of the first countries in the world to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The CRC’s core principles, which include ensuring that children meet their basic needs, are protected from violence, abuse and exploitation and reach their full potential, are reflected in national development programmes, and are also evident in the Government’s strong legal and policy framework as well as practical measures to protect children.
In 2011, the Government established a National Commission for Children, to promote children’s rights, as well as developed a plan of action to protect children from abuse, violence and exploitation. Each year, Children’s Summits are also organized to ensure that children’s voices are heard on issues that concern them.
In spite of these efforts however, many challenges remain:
- More than 60,000 children live with disabilities
- Only 63% of all births are registered
- 41% of women aged 15-49 have experienced violence since the age of 15
- 39% of children under 18 live with only one parent
- 13% of all children under 18 are orphaned
- 11% of children work, mostly in tea plantations or as domestic workers in homes
- Over 22,000 children are in foster care and some 3,000 still live in orphanages
- Some 7,000 children live or work on the streets
- Over 40,000 refugee children live in four camps around the country where they are at risk of abuse and exploitation
What is UNICEF doing?
As part of the UN in Rwanda, UNICEF supports Government and civil society organisations to promote:
- Child Care System Reform so that a system is in place where children in orphanages are placed into families, where norms and standards are in place to govern foster care and where a professional workforce exists to cater to the best interest of the child.
- Rights of Children with Disabilities, in particular to ensure their inclusion in district level children’s forums.
- Measures to End Violence against Children, including putting in place child protections systems in communities, districts and at the national level.
- Justice for Children in conflict with the law, including training judges, police officers and local authorities.
- Research on child vulnerability and poverty, child labour and other issues of concern.
- Child participation in national decision making through district children’s committees and national Children’s Summits.