Convention on the Rights of the Child 2010 - Child Rights in Uganda
Realizing Rights for Ugandan Children
In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a convention just for them because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not. The leaders also wanted to make sure the world recognized that children have human rights, too. However, despite being the most ratified agreement in history, children’s rights are violated or denied on a daily basis.
UNICEF Uganda Works to Keep Children Alive, Safe and Learning
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is particularly important in Uganda, where just over half of the population is under the age of 18.
Keep Children and Mothers Alive
Every year in Uganda, approximately 200,000 children die under the age of five. At least 45,000 newborn deaths occur each year, and over half of these deaths happen during the first week of life – mainly in the first 24 hours. The three top killers of children under five are malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea – all preventable and treatable illnesses. Lack of essential health services, malnutrition, and inadequate access to clean water and basic sanitation also contribute to high rates of child mortality. To keep children alive, UNICEF and partners are training and working with village health teams (VHTs) to provide essential health services at the level of the home and community. UNICEF is also supporting work to educate communities on hygiene and promoting healthy behaviours like breastfeeding, hand washing with soap, sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net and improved nutrition. Through these simple, cost-effective interventions, child deaths can be drastically reduced and babies can be given a healthier start in life. Another essential component of UNICEF’s work is to keep mothers alive. The health of mother and child are inextricably linked. In Uganda, the life time risk of maternal death is one in 25, compared to one in 8,000 in the industrialized world. The same interventions that will keep mothers alive will also help keep their children alive. For instance, ensuring mothers meet four recommended antenatal care visits, will help drop maternal mortality rates and save newborn lives. In terms of HIV/AIDS, currently 18 per cent of all new HIV infections in Uganda occur through mother-to-child transmission. UNICEF and the government of Uganda is increasing prevention of mother-to-child transmission services by offering more testing and access to antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). If the mother’s status is known and ARVs are administered, then this will have a significant impact on reducing new infections.
Keep Children Safe
For many children in Uganda, the threat of violence, exploitation and sexual abuse defines their daily lives. Girls are forced into marriage and robbed of their innocence and childhood. Boys and girls are forced to beg and scavenge on the streets. UNICEF estimates that around 7.5 million of Uganda’s children live in vulnerable situations. To keep children safe, UNICEF and partners are working to increase birth registration as the first step in establishing a child’s identity, rights and protection. UNICEF and partners are also supporting training of village health teams to prevent, report and respond to violence. A national child help line used to report acts of violence has been established. And by helping raise awareness about violence, communities will be more willing to talk openly and work to end it. UNICEF is also working with the Government of Uganda to strengthen the nation’s social protection policy and ensure that legislation is in place to punish perpetrators of abuse and violence.
Keep Children Learning
If children are kept alive and safe, then children can learn. Uganda has achieved amazing progress with an enrolment rate in primary schools of over 93 percent. It is within Uganda’s reach to meet the two Millennium Development Goals for education, around universal access and gender equality, and this is something to be proud of. But there are obstacles. Drop out rates are high and out of the students who do finish primary school, only about half go on to get a secondary education. Keeping children in school is key, and providing a quality education is vital. Child marriage and pregnancy, children who are forced to work because they have lost a parent to HIV/AIDS, violence in schools and teacher absenteeism are some of the reasons preventing children from getting the education that they need. UNICEF is working to break down the barriers that stand between children and learning, especially for girls. Early Childhood Development Centres are being expanded for children aged 3 to 5, which prepare children with the tools they need to enter primary school and encourage timely enrolment at age 6. UNICEF and the Government of Uganda are working to improve the quality of teaching and the learning environment in primary schools, so that children stay in school. Water and sanitation facilities are being improved and through the Girls Education Movement Clubs, more girls are going back to school. Youth centres where older children can go and interact safely are being established. The centres will also offer vocational skills and counselling on HIV/AIDS. If young people are educated and armed with the right skills then they can contribute productively and effectively to society.
Technology for Development
Technology is a key component that is also being utilized to keep children alive, safe and learning. For example, mobile phones are used to transmit vital health information in real time from rural areas to district officials. Village health teams are transmitting data on disease outbreaks and malnutrition while also registering births, and health facilities are sending in data on stock outs of malaria medicine. Information kiosks called ‘digital doorways’ are being installed in community centres so that young people can access educational and health materials, vocational training and also access protective services.
Unite for Children
Keeping children alive, safe and learning are the basic pillars of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Let us remind ourselves of children’s rights and commit to recognizing, respecting and realizing these rights for the children of Uganda.