By Ignatius Ushie.
In line with the commemoration of the 2021 Day of the African Child, The Honourable Minster of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, has called for a serious introspection and commitment towards addressing the numerous challenges facing children across the African continent.
Dame Tallen urged that the 2021 Day of African Child should be contextualized as a build up to the realization of the rights of children from the family, community level to national and international levels.
Adding that the Day of African Child was set aside by the African Union to promote the rights and welfare of the African child and Nigeria has not been left out in marking the day by using same to draw attention to the plight of Nigerian children and advancing their rights.
The plight of Nigerian children as identified by Tallen includes violence against them, exploitation, neglect and abuse. The rights they need to enjoy was also identified by the Minister to include child-sensitive criminal justice system, freedom from the impact of armed conflicts and other disasters or emergencies and ensuring that the views of children are considered.
The Women Affairs Minister described the theme of this year’s Day of the African Child which is “30 years after the adoption of the Charter: Accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2040 for an Africa fit for children” as apt, given the need to urgently “address issues of survival, development, participation and protection of our dear children.”
According to her the Agenda 2040 was as a conclusion from a high-level conference held in Addis Ababa from the 20th to 21st of November, 2015 to assess the status of the rights of children in Africa, 25 years following the adoption of the Children’s Charter as part of the commemoration activities of the 25th Anniversary of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
The 2021 edition of the African Children’s Day in Nigeria was celebrated by the Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline K. Tallen in the company of stakeholders which was extended to include the Nigeria’s Children Parliament, UNICEF, ROLAC, Save the Child and others.
Dame Tallen seized the occasion to plead with Governors across Nigeria to expedite action on Child Rights Act while revealing lots of steps being taken by the Federal Government through the Violence Against Persons (Prohibitions) Act, 2015 and domestication of the International Treaties and Conventions such as Safe School Declaration (SSD) and extending the coverage of the Home–Grown-School–Feeding Programme to ensure one meal per day for children which she said have continued to improve the lives of children.
The event also featured two panels that discussed issues of the African Child: Quality education best guaranteed through free education for children from the ages 3 to 18 in compliance with the Universal Basic Education; Securing the furure of the African Child: The Way Forward.
Motivating teachers; Digitizing of the Schools system; Protection of Children from Sexual Abuse; Safety of Children at Schools; and Eradication of Child labour/Forced labor, were used to buttress the two topics handled by the two panels.