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Launching the Children’s Rights and Business Principles in Uganda

Ms. Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative in Uganda

Ms. Barbara Burroughs, Country Director, Save the Children in Uganda

Mr. Gideon Badagawa, Executive Director, Private Sector Foundation in Uganda (PSFU)

Owek. Eng. Martin Kasekende, Chairman, Global Compact Network Uganda

The measure of greatness of a society is how its children are treated.

Yesterday, the Global Compact Network Uganda, Save the Children in Uganda, the Private Sector Foundation Uganda and UNICEF officially launched the Children’s Rights and Business Principles in Uganda, which set the standard for how children in Uganda should be treated by Uganda’s private sector.  The launch is a milestone in moving toward building stronger partnerships and collaborations with the private sector in order to advance child rights and improve the well-being of children Uganda.

Now the 41st country in the world to officially launch the Children’s Rights and Business Principles, we congratulate Uganda for being the newest member of the international community to officially pledge to work with the business community to respect and support children’s rights.

The Principles

These Business Principles set out the action required of the private sector to protect Children’s Rights and holistically promote the well-being of children.

Fully aligned with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Uganda ratified in 1991, the Business Principles set out steps that all businesses can take to integrate child rights into their operations.

In sum, businesses should:

1. Meet their responsibility to respect children’s rights and commit to supporting the human rights of children

2. Contribute to the elimination of child labour, including in all business activities and business relationships

3. Provide decent work for young workers, parents and caregivers

4. Ensure the protection and safety of children in all business activities and facilities

5. Ensure that products and services are safe and seek to support children’s rights through them

6. Use marketing and advertising that respect and support children’s rights

7. Respect and support children’s rights in relation to the environment and to land acquisition and use

8. Respect and support children’s rights in security arrangements

9. Help protect children affected by emergencies

10. Reinforce community and government efforts to protect and fulfil children’s rights

Children are crucial stakeholders of business in their roles as consumers, family members of employees, young workers, future employees, business leaders and as citizens in the communities and environments in which business operates.

Business – whether large or small – therefore inevitably interacts with and affects the lives of children.

Children and the Private Sector

There are around 20 million children in Uganda today – nearly 60% of Uganda’s population.

Of these, around 8 million children are living in poverty, deprived of many of the basic services and rights they need to grow up to realize their full potential and be fully productive citizens in the future.

Furthermore, over two million Ugandan children are currently undernourished, meaning they have stunted physical and cognitive growth, which is permanent and irreparable.

It is estimated that this is already costing Uganda over 5% of its annual GDP – 1.8 trillion shillings every year.

What a huge loss!

#InvestInUGchildren : Realize Uganda’s Vision 2040

Investment in children is the best and purest form of investment a society can make for its future.

Recognizing this, a couple of months ago, the #InvestInUGchildren : Realize Uganda’s Vision 2040 campaign, was launched.

This campaign is a call to invest in today’s children in order to realize Uganda’s Vision 2040 of transforming from a peasant-based economy into a prosperous, upper middle income country.

It is a call that stresses that without a laser sharp focus on today’s children, Uganda’s future – and Vision 2040 - will be compromised.

It is a call that states that greater investments in children today will ensure that they grow into a strong, healthy and productive work force that will drive Uganda’s social and economic development and greater international competitiveness - and achieve its Vision 2040. 

Uganda’s Vision 2040 is about being more prosperous. 

The engine that drives prosperity is the private sector.

But that prosperity will only happen if there is a knowledgeable and skilled labour force for the private sector to access.

And this skilled labour force can only be achieved if Ugandans are well nurtured and educated from the moment they are born all the way through the different stages of their childhood.

In other words, this prosperity can only be achieved if there are greater and sharper investments in children.

It is our obligation to act.

By 2020, 5 million children of age 3-5 will live in Uganda. It is estimated that approximately 3 million of them will not have access to pre-primary education and, as a result, will be subject to irreversible damage to their future potential and violations to their most basic rights.

Investing in children therefore, demands investments in Early Childhood Development!

The launch of the Children’s Rights and Business Principles in Uganda is a major step forward to work with the private sector to ensure child rights are better protected by the business community and that greater investments are made in children.

We now call on all businesses in Uganda to adopt the Principles and to join us in calling for and making greater investments in Ugandan children.  

 

 
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