Guinea Bissau - The Day of the African Child Marked by a Special Children’s Parliament Session
Bissau, 16 June 2008 – The Day of the African Child was marked in Guinea Bissau by a special parliamentary session organized by the Children Parliament and supported by UNICEF.
In addition to children from different schools, children rescued from the traffic and UNICEF staff, the event saw the participation of the Vice President of the National Assembly, the Minister of Social Solidarity, Family and Poverty Reduction, the President of the Women and Children Institute, the President of the Special Parliamentary Commission on Women and Children Issues, the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Guinea Bissau, media and artists.
During the session, the children parliamentarian presented a “Manifesto” highlighting the plight of Guinea-Bissau’s children, and asking the President of the Republic and the Government to assume their responsibilities and respect the engagement taken on children.
In the document, the young parliamentarians made an appeal to the National Assembly to ratify all the international instruments about social protection of women and children, approve the new project of law against Female Genital Mutilation, ensure access of children to education and health, and stop child trafficking.
The President of the Children Parliament, Julcira Cabral, asked that children’s rights are respected - especially the right to participate.
“If we don’t prioritize children’s needs and concerns, if we don’t listen to our children, if we don’t allow them to participate, it means that we don’t believe in our projects for development – that we don’t believe in the future of this country” said the Representative of UNICEF in Guinea Bissau, Silvia Luciani, highlighting the importance of children’s participation in the process of development in Guinea Bissau.
The same idea was subscribed by the UN System Coordinator in Guinea Bissau, Gioseppina Mazza. During her speech, the UN Coordinator in Guinea Bissau manifested the preoccupation of the United Nations and the need to put children first in the peace and development agenda.
The Minister of Social Solidarity, Family and Poverty Reduction said that in addition to efforts already made by the Government with the support of partners, additional measures to meet children’s rights and ensure their well-being have to be taken urgently, and assured the presents that the main preoccupations expressed by the children during the session will be presented in the next meeting of the Ministers’ Council.
The Vice President of the National Assembly, Adja Satu Camara, appealed to all members of Government and Parliamentarians participating in the event. “We have and we will respond to the preoccupations presented in the Manifesto by the children parliamentarian”, she said.
UNICEF will follow up on this special event trough advocacy and other activities aiming to promote the content of the Manifesto presented by the children, and ensure that children’s concerns are taken into account in the course of the starting electoral campaign for the next legislative elections, which will take place in November 2008.
During the debate that followed the official presentation of the Manifesto and the speeches, the children had the opportunity to express their opinions, talk about their different experiences and articulate their preoccupations relating to their own situation and that of other children in Guinea Bissau.
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