In Uganda, world leaders focus on creating a safer future for children
By Ijuka Agnes Barongo
KAMPALA, Uganda, 22 November, 2011—Florence Hadija Nalwooga, 13, walked quietly to the podium on November 19 to address the first-ever National Day of Prayer and Action for Children in Uganda.
The audience laughed, but as she went on to discuss the problem of violence against children in Uganda, a more serious mood took over the room. Young Florence finished her appeal to parents and leaders to work together for zero violence against children, and the participants, including young people from across the country, stood in ovation.
World Day of Prayer
UNICEF joined the Uganda Parliamentary Fellowship and the Uganda Child Rights NGO Network (UCRNN) to organize the event, which commemorated the 22nd anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) under the theme ‘Creating a Safe Future for Children: Zero Violence Against Children in Schools.’
The message focused on putting individual differences and prejudices aside to pray for all children, and to challenge leaders at all levels to ensure children in Uganda grow up in a violence-free environment.
Uganda’s prayer day also corresponded with the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children’s launch of a new three-year initiative in more than 30 countries to protect children from violence.
“The faith-based organizations have the presence, the credibility, and a relationship with the community in every single part of the country,” said Dr. Sharad Sapra, UNICEF Uganda Country Representative. “This is especially the case in Uganda, where almost 85 to 90 per cent of the population go to the place of worship every week, I think the faith-based organizations have a critical role to play in establishing and changing societal behaviour.”
Leaders pledge their support
Representatives from Uganda’s Parliament, Judiciary, diplomatic corps, religious and cultural leaders were also in attendance.
Attorney General Peter Nyombi, who presided over the day, pledged to support Parliament to expedite the passing of the revised Children’s Act 2010, to ensure that all children in Uganda are legally protected from violence, abuse and neglect.
“As leaders we must ensure that children are protected and provided the opportunities that make them progress to lead this nation in the future,” Attorney General Nyombi said.