Zimbabwe commemorates children’s rights Convention in Harare

Fun, serious messages galore at commemoration of Convention on the Rights of the Child

UNICEF Zimbabwe/2019/Siatra

04 December 2019

Harare, Zimbabwe – More than a thousand children came together to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the U.N Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in Harare on Saturday.

Children from Harare commemorated the festive day through sports, music, games and dance with the recurring message being the critical role children play in the realisation of their rights.

Laylee Moshiri, UNICEF Representative to Zimbabwe speaking at the event, reiterated that children should play a central role in advocating for the enjoyment of their rights and society must ensure a conducive environment for them to effectively add a voice in the growing call for children’s rights.

"Children have a critical role to play in the realisation of their rights because they are the greatest advocates of issues that affect them on a daily basis. It is our responsibility as duty bearers to ensure that we create a conducive and nurturing environment to allow them to express themselves freely," said Moshiri.

"Children have a critical role to play in the realisation of their rights because they are the greatest advocates of issues that affect them on a daily basis."

"After all, without children and their participation and input, we will not be able to realise their rights, thus the future of this country," Moshiri said.

She said the older generations are duty bound to work with children in coming up with answers to current and future challenges.

"We want to work together with you to find the solutions you need to tackle challenges of today, to build better futures for yourselves and the world you will inherit," said Moshiri.

Prince Edward High School, where the commemorations took place, was a hive of activity with children taking part in a wide range of extra-curricular activities.

UNICEF Zimbabwe/2019/Siatra Msandu
Children enjoy painting on the canvas during the CRC 30th anniversary in Harare

The day also provided children with an opportunity to learn more about child rights with many of them showing clarity of what they had learnt and why they attended the event.

"We are having fun, I enjoyed netball and dancing but I am happier that adults were willing to listen to us when it comes to our rights," said 12-year-old Sharon from JS Omar primary.

Children attired in colourful pink, blue, white and black T-shirts emboldened with children’s rights messages to mark the important day took part in volley, basketball, music, dance and other cultural activities. Some teenagers huddled and engaged in intense discussions on children’s rights.

In her key note address, the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Kirsty Coventry, said the commemorations will help increase awareness on the need to implement protective policies concerning children's rights.

UNICEF Zimbabwe/2019/Siatra
Children dancing in celebration of the CRC 30th anniversary where they also spoke strongly about the need for the world to respect Child Rights.

"The commemoration is intended to add impetus to the implementation of national laws, policies and action plans that address children's rights such as education, prevention and early detection of child abuse and reporting of abuse offences," said the minister.

"Numerous incidents of sexual harassment towards children remain unreported for a variety of reasons that include social stigma, lack of safe spaces for children to report and ignorance on child rights. In this view sports, arts and recreation can create platforms to address children's rights," she said.

This year marks 30 years since the UNCRC was adopted in 1989, and 29 years since Zimbabwe ratified the Convention in 1990.

The event was meant to push for a firmer approach on implementation of the UNCRC by the government and stronger commitment from authorities to align national laws with the Constitution, particularly Article 81, which is the Children's Bill of Rights.

Other stakeholders included the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Health and Child Care and The Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children.

UNICEF Zimbabwe partners, Save the Children, Childline, Action 24  as well as private sector players also took part in the festivities.