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Leaders join with young people to celebrate child rights in Zimbabwe

© UNICEF Zimbabwe / 2009 / Zvomuya
Children from different parts of the country make their way into the auditorium where the main celebrations were held.

By Tapuwa L. Mutseyekwa

HARARE, Zimbabwe, 15 December 2009 - Leaders in Zimbabwe’s Inclusive Government joined with the rest of world in celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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The commemoration gave Government leaders the opportunity to recommit to the rights and the welfare of Zimbabwean children.

In Zimbabwe, the celebration was done under the theme ‘Celebrating Children’s Rights in Zimbabwe - Towards a Zimbabwe Fit for Children’.

Children speak out

The event featured the powerful voices of a number of children, who all spoke of the many challenges that still face Zimbabwe’s youth. Through their speeches and poems, the young people urged the adoption of health and protection services for children.

More than 3,000 children from across the country took part in the celebrations. The children also presented a petition to Government leaders, asking them to create an environment in which youth would be included in actions taken on their behalf.

© UNICEF Zimbabwe / 2009 / Zvomuya
Children representatives present a petition to Vice President Joice Mujuru.

“We continue to call on our leaders to promote a conducive environment for children to exercise their rights, and for action to be taken to safeguard these rights,” said Gugulethu Nkomo, the President of Zimbabwe’s Children’s Parliament.

Health services as a right

Zimbabwe was among the first countries to ratify the CRC without any reservations.

Substantial progress has been made since September 1990, when Zimbabwe joined the Convention, but the political and economic instabilities of 2008 have caused some setbacks.

“The challenges facing Zimbabwe in its efforts to realize the vision of the convention are daunting,” said UNICEF Representative in Zimbabwe, Dr. Peter Salama, noting the urgency of the deterioration of the health care sector.

“While the rate of under-5 mortality has dropped all over the world by around 30 per cent since 1990, it has gone up in Zimbabwe by more than 20 per cent. Around one in ten Zimbabwean children today die before the age of 5,” he said.

Renewed commitment

The three Principals of Zimbabwe’s Inclusive Government were present at the ceremony and all agreed that children’s wellbeing in Zimbabwe had been greatly compromised over the last few years. 

© UNICEF Zimbabwe / 2009 / Zvomuya
Youth traditional dancers celebrate the CRC@20 in Zimbabwe.

The leaders pledged their commitment to the creation of an enabling environment that would ensure equal opportunities for children regardless of their social background. 

“[The] Government is working flat-out to ensure that efficient and effective services are made available in the areas of health and education,” said Vice President Joice Mujuru.

“I renew and pledge Government commitment to the implementation of the CRC,” she added.  “Our aim is to popularize, adapt and enact the key provisions of the CRC in Zimbabwe.” 




UNICEF correspondent Natacha Ikoli reports on Zimbabwe’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of the CRC, an event that brought together the country’s leadership and young people to reaffirm their commitments to child rights.
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