The origins of the Children's Agenda
In November 2009, during events marking the twentieth anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC@20), UNICEF in collaboration with its partners supported consultations with children in seven regions across Tanzania. The consultations generated key questions about child rights issues that children wanted to ask the nation’s leaders.
Elected representatives of the children interviewed civic, religious, business, media and political leaders with the results broadcast on national media. The President of the United Republic of Tanzania was also interviewed by the Children’s Council on national television – a first in the country. A multi-media campaign put the children’s questions before the public – including such questions as: “Most abused children do not know where to go for help! What will you do to protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation?” and “More than one in four girls under 18 is already a mother! What will you do to reduce teenage pregnancy?”
In January 2010, members of the Children’s Council agreed that the campaign should continue with the aim of ensuring children were heard during the 2010 elections. The children defined the Kiswahili slogan for the campaign, “Tuwape nafasi viongozi wanaojali watoto kwa kutetea haki zao,” which translates as “Let’s support leaders who care about children by defending their rights.”
The Top Ten Investments, which define the core advocacy messages of the Children’s Agenda, were based on the key child rights issues raised during the CRC@20 consultations with children across the country as well as analysis of the situation of children and discussion among key government and CSO partners.
The Top Ten Investments are:
Partnership: CSOs joined the Children’s Agenda by incorporating the brand and one or more of the top ten investments as well as child participation into their regular advocacy work. The logos of all members appeared on all core Children’s Agenda visibility materials.
Party manifestos: In 2010, partners of the Children’s Agenda approached political parties to advocate for children and ensure that child rights issues were featured and prioritised in the party manifestos. In most cases, the party committees realized that they had not considered children in their manifestos or as part of their election campaigns. Consultations between children and civic and religious leaders, and candidates were held in 20 districts. Many of these discussions also featured on phone-in programmes on national radio. The consultations were backed by an extensive mass media campaign that put the Top Ten Investments before the general public.
Several political parties amended their manifestos to reflect elements of the Top Ten Investments for children – one party completely committed to the Children’s Agenda. CSO partners secured signed commitments to the Children’s Agenda from more than 300 candidates for parliament and council seats. The President of Tanzania also featured child survival and education messages on his campaign billboards, apparently for the first time. The Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children pledged government support for the Children’s Agenda and urged partners to mobilize CSOs and local government across the country to increase investment in children.