Malawi’s President reconfirms the Government’s commitment to child rights
As he hosts 60 children in World Children’s Day dialogue
LILONGWE, 20 November 2020 – Malawi’s President His Excellency Dr Lazarus Chakwera has pledged better legislation, policies and resourcing mechanisms to promote child rights in Malawi. Dr Chakwera made the pledge when he hosted 60 children from across the country in an interactive session to celebrate World Children’s Day.
During the session held at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe, the President said the Government of Malawi has an undeniable obligation to the children of Malawi and it must never be imagined that children do not have ideas of the future they want for themselves or their country. He asked the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare to speed up the development of child participation guidelines to facilitate interaction with children through fora such as the children’s parliament.
The President spoke strongly against increasing cases of violence against children calling it a national emergency that must be addressed. He said it is unacceptable that the number of child protection workers had dropped from 800 to 300 in the last decade. President Chakwera assured the children that the Government will improve the way in which it protects children’s rights, including by improving the type of training that child protection workers receive.
During the interactive dialogue, 12 year old Wisdom asked the President how the Government will cover the loss of learning due to COVID-19, 17 year old Killiness asked how the Government will support schools that do not have adequate water and sanitation facilities, 16 year old Victoria asked if the Government could introduce more child participation platforms such as children’s parliament and children’s corners, 15 year old Christella followed up on the Government’s commitment to the Convention on the Rights of the Child while 13 year old Emma was concerned with the surge in sexual violence across Malawi.
The President informed the children that the Government’s responsibility is to align its laws, policies and practices to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. He announced that the Government is in the process of harmonizing all laws related to children; implementing the national children’s policy for better coordination of services and resources for children; giving the largest share of resources to sectors that work to improve children’s lives such as education, health, early childhood development and nutrition with support from development partners; implementing the national children’s commission act to oversee all issues related to children and ensure accountability at all levels; increasing children’s engagement with decision making processes and offices; preparing for a mass birth registration campaign in 2021 to close the gap in registration of children below the age 16 which is at 8.4million.
The children’s interaction with the President was organized by the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare in collaboration with UNICEF and other child rights organizations; Action Aid, Save the Children, YONECO, Malawi Girl Guides Association, World Relief, Plan International Malawi, SOS, World Vision, Social Rehabilitation through Gender and Catholic Relief Services.
UNICEF Malawi Representative Rudolf Schwenk said children can contribute positively to decisions that affect the realization of their rights and wellbeing because they understand their world and their own experiences of how their rights are - or are not - respected. He pledged UNICEF’s commitment, along with other UN agencies and child rights organizations, to ensure that all children learn, access quality health, nutrition, water and sanitation services; to protect the mental health of every child and end abuse, violence and neglect in childhood and reverse the rise in child poverty and inequality.
The children spiced up the event with music, infusing some of their concerns in the song. President Chakwera challenged them to do their best at all times- in school and at home- adding that he has faith in Malawi’s future leaders.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.