Working with The African Child Policy Forum will create opportunities for more children to realize their rights
By Patrick Canagasingham, CEO, email@example.com
November 20 is a special day. Universal Children’s Day celebrates the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. That doesn’t sound exciting, but it is in my world.
So, it’s fitting this is also the month I sat down with Dr. Assefa Bequele (below) to talk about how we’ll be working together to keep more children safe from violence and empowered to realize their rights.
Assefa is the founder of the Ethiopia-based African Child Policy Forum (ACPF), a non-profit, Pan-African organization founded to promote the rights and well-being of African children for lasting social and economic progress.
At CCFC, our goals align with that mission. Assefa agrees: “If ACPF and CCFC can join hands, we can work together to put children first, ensure their protection and give them a space to use their voice to improve their well-being. That means putting children on the public and political agenda of the African Union, the Regional Economic Communities and national governments in Africa.”
We’ve come a long way, but with the growth of Africa’s population, there’s still lots to do. In fact, Assefa noted five ways we need to work together to make change:
Take action and strengthen accountability to children
The state is undoubtedly the major actor in taking appropriate measures, including having appropriate national legislation, systems and structures to promote and protect the rights and well-being of children. It’s the duty of African civil-society organizations to monitor government performance in translating its policy rhetoric into action.
Promote law reform and justice for children
Some countries lack appropriate legislation on children issues; some haven’t yet ratified relevant international documents such as the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child; others have gaps in their existing national laws and policies; and many do not have the system to implement existing laws and policies at the grassroots level. What’s more, almost all African countries need to establish practical ways to deliver justice to children.
Advocate for children to be considered in government budgets
Although there have been improvements in the allocation of the public budget for sectors and programs benefiting children in Africa, they’re generally inadequate. Collective effort is required to promote better investment in children.
Review and support policy implementation
Gaps in implementation of laws and policies remain the common barrier in effectively realizing rights and well-being of children…. We’ll identify bottlenecks and support national and regional efforts to encourage governments to take action.
Help raise the voices of civil-society organizations and children
The voices of children — their views, concerns and suggestions — should be heard in policymaking and agenda-setting processes. There’s space for joint initiatives by northern civil-society organizations and Pan-African organizations to improve the active involvement of children and civil-society organizations.
So, where do we go from here? We need to work together, across borders, to learn from each other and leverage our collective experience. Only then can we build a path to a healthier world for all children.
And, we’re intentionally growing partnerships that can help millions of children access the fruitful future they deserve. In fact, I’m excited to be hosting a conference with Assefa soon. Stay tuned to our blogs for an update.