KIGALI, Rwanda – This year on World Children’s Day, the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion and the National Commission for Children, in partnership with UNICEF, convene the 13th National Children’s Summit.
The National Children’s Summit is a consultative forum bringing together child delegates from all administrative districts and sectors, where they exchange views and ideas on child issues in Rwanda.
The National Children’s Summit began in 2004, when children requested H.E. President Paul Kagame to provide a platform for child participation and dialogue with decision-makers and development partners. This year’s summit will take place in Rwanda Parliament under the theme “Role of the child in positive parenting”.
“With this theme, we want to remind our children that along with rights come responsibilities. We also want to reflect on everyone’s role towards caring for children while highlighting positive parenting as the bedrock for the well-being of Rwandan children and families,” said Soline Nyirahabimana, Minister of Gender and Family Promotion.
This years’ summit has particular significance as Rwanda joins the rest of the world to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and World Children’s Day, marking the day when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.
In 1991, Rwanda ratified the CRC and pledged to uphold and advance the rights of children across the country. Since then, there have been historic gains for child rights in Rwanda:
- Since 2000, the under-five mortality rate has fallen by about 75 per cent.
- Since tuition-free primary school was introduced in 2003, net enrolment rates have risen to 98 per cent.
- The guiding principles of the CRC – non-discrimination; the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and the right to protection – have influenced numerous constitutions, laws, policies and practices, including the National Integrated Child Rights Policy, the Child Online Protection Policy, and the Justice for Children Policy.
- Rwanda has established a strict 20-years-to-life imprisonment penalty for child defilement.
Although more and more Rwandan children are living healthier and better lives, progress made has not always been even. For instance, although 98 per cent of Rwandan children are enrolled in primary school, only 57 per cent of children with disabilities attend.
“This year’s anniversary of the CRC provides a unique opportunity for decision-makers. It is time for us to recommit to advancing children’s rights. We need to hold ourselves accountable, but not forget to also listen to young people who are speaking up for their rights,” said Minister Nyirahabimana.
The 13th National Children’s Summit and the celebration of World Children's Day will attract 580 children, inclusive of children with disabilities and children living in refugee camps. Around 100 adults will also attend from government, civil society, security organs and other partners.
UNICEF is also hosting a TEDxKids event, providing a platform for young Rwandans to speak about their ideas and experiences around child rights. Globally, UNICEF plans to implement a 12-month inclusive dialogue with children, young people, and others to co-create solutions for emerging challenges, and uncover what it will take to make the promise of the CRC a reality for every child.
“To accelerate the advancement of child rights in Rwanda, we need more data and evidence, scale-up of proven solutions and interventions, and additional resources,” said Nathalie Hamoudi, acting UNICEF Representative in Rwanda. “We should also consider innovative solutions for emerging issues and priorities. But we must act now and take decisive steps forward, because children in Rwanda cannot wait.”
Notes to Editors:
Read the new CRC report here: https://uni.cf/CRC-media
Download multimedia content here: https://weshare.unicef.org/Package/2AMZIF31URK1
For more information about the Convention on the Rights of the Child visit: https://www.unicef.org/child-rights-convention
UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being 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 in Rwanda, visit www.unicef.org/rwanda.