About 60 children from all ten provinces meet with policy makers to mark World Children’s Day and request further action to advance child rights

06 December 2023
Children posing for the camera
UNICEF/Zambia/2023/Namusa

LUSAKA, Zambia, 15 November 2023 – About 60 children from all ten provinces of Zambia, representatives of line ministries, and members of the Parliament, including the Chair of the Parliamentarian Caucus on Children gathered today in Lusaka to mark World Children’s Day.  The event, themed “Renewing Our Promise for Children’s Rights”, provided an opportunity to reflect on the progress made since the 2022 event which was celebrated in Zambia alongside Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe with nearly 500 children and the Heads of State of the four Sub-Saharan nations. 

On this important occasion, children raised their voices and requested policy makers to take action to protect their rights in areas such as climate change, education, health, child protection and inclusion of children with disabilities among others. “Climate change is a child rights crisis and therefore our voices must be heard. We ask for meaningful participation. We, children, must be included in the development of climate change policies,” said Chibwe Chilufya, 11 years old, from Northern Province. “As children, we want to be involved in shaping the curriculum and we request that issues like climate change, mental health and wellbeing are taught in schools. The curriculum should be revised together with learners,” added David Lungu, 16 years old, from Western Province.

Since World Children’s Day 2022, Zambia’s Government has made important strides in realizing the rights of children. In March 2023, the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services launched the Standardized Statutory and Non-Statutory Case Management tools that outline procedures on provision of services to children at risk of violence, abuse and exploitation, while the representatives of the Traditional Chiefs and Members of Parliament signed a commitment to end child marriage two months later in May. To complement these strides in pledges, legislation and frameworks, Zambia has also increased its budgetary allocations and support to the sectors that serve the needs of children, notably in the health and education sectors.  

“Children represent the present and the future of this nation. But what does it take to raise the next generation of leaders, movers, and drivers of our great nation? Equal opportunities, in all spheres of life and in all sectors, not only to survive, but to thrive. To make this happen, we, the leaders of the present day, invite, and count on, our children to sound the call to action to the Government, and to hold us accountable for our promises. We call on Zambia’s young people to do this dutifully and with well-considered views; to engage with us, and, indeed, to inspire us with your fresh perspectives. By so doing, young people will be a support to the Government to build the Zambia we want to see for every child,” stated Hon. Doreen Mwamba, Minister Community Development and Social Services, MP.

At this year’s World Children’s Day commemoration, children participated in a panel discussion with policy makers. Discussions included the views of children on Education, Child Protection, Health, and Climate Change and Environment, among others. Children called on the representatives from the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services to renew their promises to children whilst also recognizing that the Government was already working towards this as seen in the country’s 8th National Development Plan, which recognizes that children are at the heart of human and social development, and the government's policy reform agenda which is defined by child-centered legislation in key areas such as education and child protection.

“We are asking that when you (policy makers) are developing health policies and frameworks or improving health services for children, you include us from the beginning. Also, in health care, our voices matter, as we, children, can say what we need for us to openly speak with a doctor about our issues. We might be small, we might not have a medical degree, but we are the ones who know how it is to be in our bodies. Listen to us, bring us along in your service development. We have great ideas,” stated Maserah Mbewe, 17 years, old from Central Province.

“Listening to the children, we have been reminded of a few things: (1) the importance of children participation in decision-making processes, particularly in matters that directly impact them (2) the brilliance of our young people, which, correctly nurtured and guided will be the foundation for the next generation of leaders, and (3) the essence of World Children’s Day: a global day of action for children, by children,” explained UNICEF Zambia Country Representative, Dr. Penelope Campbell. “The matters that they have brought to the table today represent the matters that they most care about. It is now up to the nation’s leaders to carry those matters forward to create real and lasting change.”

Following the national WCD event in Zambia, the presidents of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as children from the four countries will participate in a sub-regional gathering in Walvis Bay, Namibia on 19 November 2023 where they will assess progress made in advancing child rights. Different activities are planned there including a march for child rights and thematic panel discussions. At the main event, children will be presenting their call to action for the four heads of State. Zambia will be represented by ten children who will be talking on behalf of their peers bringing the key issues discussed in consultations organised throughout the country such us climate change, education, health and protection to the forefront of the policy makers‘ agenda.   

World Children’s Day marks the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on 20 November 1989. In 2024, the world will observe its 35th anniversary. Thus, this year’s WCD presents an opportunity to reflect on Zambia’s progress with child rights in preparation for next year’s milestone.


About Ministry of Community Development and Social Services

The mandate of the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (MCDSS) is based on the Government Gazette Notice No. 1123 of 2021. The Ministry implements Basic Social Protection Services that seek to provide social assistance and promotional services (livelihood and empowerment) to the poor and vulnerable of our society. The services provided are aimed at enhancing human development and accelerating national development.

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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 in Zambia, visit www.unicef.org/zambia.

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