Rwanda, 5 October 2011: UNICEF welcomes First Lady’s campaign to end violence against children
KIGALI, Rwanda, 5 October 2011 – At the first-ever national conference on stopping violence against children, Rwanda’s First Lady, Jeannette Kagame, launched a campaign to end violence against children, saying that action against violence was not a luxury but a national necessity.
“As a country that went through one of the worst human tragedies in the last century, the tremors of the 1994 genocide are still felt to this day,” emphasised Mrs. Kagame. “If we are to ensure that this never happens again, if we are to build a culture of peace and harmony – we shall have to begin with our children; we need to challenge beliefs and attitudes, we need to encourage new research, and we need to assist families in promoting positive parenting to ensure children’s growth and sound development.”
Both the conference and campaign, organised by the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF), in partnership with UNICEF, the UN family and other organisations, intends to both “break the silence” around violence as well as promote positive parenting. Organisers hope that the campaign and conference slogan – Wiceceka, or ‘Speak out’ in the local dialect – will encourage parents, children and communities to talk about violence and understand its consequences.
“Violence against children is a challenge globally,” said Rwanda’s Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Aloisea Inyumba. “The Rwandan Government is strongly committed to the protection of children and works continuously on multiple levels to prevent and respond to violence. However, there is always room for improvement.”
Rwanda has made great progress in the last decade to improve outcomes related to child survival and development. Under-five mortality rates have been cut by more than half; net primary enrolment rates are over 95 per cent and a number of policies have been put in place to prevent violence against children. However, stronger child-protection measures are needed.
A recent study conducted by the Ministry of Education showed that violence is a key issue in the nation’s schools. Past Demographic and Health Survey results also indicated that almost a third of all Rwandan women aged 15 to 49 have experienced violence. And anecdotal evidence from the 2009 Children’s Summit – a forum that annually brings together children from all 30 districts of Rwanda– suggested that children are subject to violence in their homes, schools and neighbourhoods, and that the perpetrators include both adults and other children.
The Violence against Children Conference, which spans two days, brings together over 200 child rights activists, civil society organisations, researchers, doctors, educators, government officials and development partners to learn more about different types of violence, social norms related to violence, its impact on children and their families, and positive parenting options. Participants will also make recommendations for a strategy and action plan to end violence against children in the country.
During the opening ceremony, UNICEF Representative in Rwanda Noala Skinner discussed the global problem of violence against children and presented a video message from Marta Santos Pais, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, who has spearheaded worldwide advocacy efforts. The well-known singer, activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Nana Mouskouri also sent a filmed message thanking Rwanda for taking action against violence.
In her remarks, Ms. Skinner expressed her delight that UNICEF was able to support the organisation of the conference as well as mobilise experts to shed further light on global trends and best practices.
“This way,” she added, “Rwanda has the best possible information and evidence to take its response to violence against children to the next level, including through the Wiceceka campaign.”
About UNICEF in Rwanda:
UNICEF is the world’s leading agency on children’s issues, with technical expertise in educational, health, protection, water, environmental sanitation and HIV programming that spans over sixty years. Its qualified staff in Rwanda provide advice on strategic, cost-effective policies for children and have contributed to setting standards for quality education (through promotion of the child-friendly school initiative); to strengthen the health and well-being of women and children (through the organisation of Mother and Child Health Weeks); to foster hygiene and sanitation; and to put in place systems to strengthen child protection (through the establishment of the Child Rights’ Observatory), to name just a few.
For more information please contact:
Misbah M. Sheikh, UNICEF Chief of Communication, +250 78 8300731, firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also visit the UNICEF Rwanda on Facebook.
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