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As Kenya and the rest of the world commemorates the Day of the African Child 2021, the East African Centre for Human Rights (EACHRights), a non-partisan, Regional Non-Governmental Organization that undertakes programmes that promote, protect, and enhance Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ECOSOC Rights) in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania for vulnerable and marginalized groups, seizes the moment to advocate for children’s issues, bringing to light the challenges facing their right to enjoy a healthy, safe and dignified childhood.
Children are the future of the world. Due to their inherent vulnerability based on their age, it is our concerted responsibility to protect them from harm, provide for their needs and to guide them through life. Today is also an occasion to draw attention to the progress made in child protection efforts for the entire African continent. There have been significant milestones from decisions and recommendations from the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) and even the African Commission on Human and People Rights (ACHPR), under which EACHRights has Observer status. We recognize the effort of the government of Kenya in the advancement of children’s rights, including increasing of budgetary allocation to children matters, organizing for children to continue learning even in the pandemic, prohibiting harmful and retrogressive cultures that impede children rights, and the banning of corporal punishment, among others. However, we point out that there is still a huge gap, especially in the provision of quality, accessible and affordable education among marginalized poor communities in urban areas, child protection and even right to health.
EACHRights wishes to highlight the plight of children during the subsistence of the global pandemic that is the COVID -19. Even though children may be the least affected by the disease itself, they are the most affected by its socio-economic effects. Closure of schools during the lockdowns to control the spread of the disease became the hotbed for abuse of children’s rights, exemplified by the rise in number of teenage pregnancies, child labour, stress due to inability to go outside to interact or play with peers, hunger in children who depend on school to provide food, child trafficking, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and even child marriage among other illegalities. These has had a toll on children’s wellbeing, both physically, emotionally and psychologically in the long-run.
EACHRights further highlights the ten solid aspirations of Agenda 2040, which comes under the slogan: (Fostering an Africa fit for Children) and urges all stakeholders in the child rights sector to continue to advocate the aspirations of the Agenda 2040 which calls for the provision of a vibrant continental framework in the advancement of child rights, augmented with effective national legislative and institutional policy framework biased towards children. Going by the Agenda 2040 call for inclusive growth and sustainable development, EACHRights implore all stakeholders in the child rights sector to advocate for the equitable protection of all children regardless of gender, taking due cognizance of their different needs and social circumstances, as focusing on protection of the girl child alone may lead to undesirable consequences.
The East African Centre for Human Rights wishes all children and those who support them within the African Continent a Happy Day of the African Child.
DR. JUDITH OLOO
Chief Executive Officer