Mozambique, 2 August 2013: Children discuss fulfilment of their rights at the Fourth Session of the Children's Parliament
Maputo, Mozambique, August 2, 2013 - About 250 children from 10 to 16 years from all over the country gathered this week in Parliament for the Fourth Session of the Children's Parliament, where they discussed the child rights situation in the country with the Government.
The Children's Parliament, which takes place every two years, was held in Maputo from 30-31 July, with the participation of 114 young deputies elected from the country's 11 provinces, and more than one hundred invited children. In these two days, the children had the opportunity to present and discuss their concerns and priorities with the President of Mozambique and ministers of each sector relevant to the child, including Health, Education, Youth and Sports, Culture, Labor, Justice, Women and Social Action, and Interior.
Addressing the children in his speech at the opening ceremony, the UNICEF Representative, Dr. Koenraad Vanormelingen, emphasized the crucial role of the young delegates.
Among the various issues raised by the young delegates stood out discrimination against children with disabilities, access to education and health services, sexual abuse, trafficking and violence against children, child labour, and lack of appropriate leisure for children.
Danice Carneiro, 16, is one of several elected delegates from Nampula province who had the opportunity to participate in this session in Maputo. She is a member of the provincial child parliament since 2007.
"It is an honour for me to represent the children of Nampula who cannot be here. It is important that children have a voice and be heard. We urge that there be more schools with inclusive programs for children with disabilities, that Mozambique is free of trafficking and child abuse, and children can participate effectively, not only in Parliament but in all areas that concern us" says Danice when questioned about her role and message.
After reviewing the status of Government’s implementation of the recommendations from the Third Session held in 2011, the Fourth Session of the Children's Parliament ended recommending as top priorities the expansion of the school network and health care, creating inclusive programs for children with disabilities in schools, exemplary punishment of crimes against children, prevention of child labour, control of the access of minors to clubs and alcoholic beverages, and promotion of leisure activities for children.
The UNICEF Mozambique’s Goodwill Ambassador Stewart Sukuma, who was specially invited by the children to join the event, stressed in his intervention that the Children's Parliament is a clear example of how children can exercise their right to participate in the country’s development processes.
"You kids should take full advantage of this forum to question the government on its obligations and responsibilities, and demand the fulfillment of your rights," said Sukuma to the young delegates, also rallying them in song.
As parallel activities, the delegates also participated in a painting workshop led by renowned artist Naguib, and offered donations to the accommodation centre for flood victims in Magoanine, a suburban neighbourhood of Maputo city.
The Children's Parliament − which is supported by UNICEF and partners − was created in Mozambique in 2000 by the Government, with the aim of promoting the child's participation and access to information, establishing a platform for dialogue between children, the government and state institutions on the needs and priorities for children in the country.
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