Enhance Children’s Advocacy Strategies As We Commemorate World Children’s Day 2023
The PLATFORM for the NEEDY (PLANE) joins the international community in observing World Children’s Day on 20th November 2023. The theme of Children’s Day 2023 is ”for every child, every right’, highlighting the dedication to maintaining the freedoms of every kid around the world .We acknowledge the work being done globally to protect and promote children’s rights since the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 and when the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child came into force in 1990. However, there is still much work to be done, both globally and in Uganda.
Although efforts to protect children’s rights are ongoing, according to UNICEF, now is a critical time to protect children’s rights. This is because the world is not becoming a safer place for children. According to UNICEF, globally, children are among the most affected by ongoing and compounding crises, including economic downturn; climate change and environmental degradation; public health emergencies; and the heightened levels of war and conflict. These crises are often related and exacerbate each other.
This interplay of shocks is called a poly-crisis, and results in the poorest and most marginalized being impacted with greater force. In children’s lives, poly-crisis manifests as heightened risks of exposure to violence; displacement; malnutrition and food insecurity; disrupted education; and limited access to healthcare, water and sanitation, social protection and social services, among other rights violations.
It is therefore critical to monitor children’s rights to ensure that violations do not increase as countries experience the above mentioned shocks. PLANE would like to draw your attention to the following global statistics which are related to our mandate of protecting women and children’s rights:
Although child marriages have fallen since the 1990s, 12 million girls annually are married prematurely.
In the poorest countries, over 20% of children engage in child labour, preventing them from receiving an education and violating other rights.
Every day, over 1000 children die due to drinking unsafe drinking water.
1 out of every 6 children globally lives in extreme poverty, meaning that they live on less than $1.90 a day. This has a lasting impact on development. In 2019, 149 million children under the age of 5 were stunted.
Globally, 175 million children are not enrolled in pre-primary education.
Uganda ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, meaning that they have a legal obligation under international law to protect and promote children’s rights. Some of the abovementioned shocks have impacted the work being done to protect children’s rights in Uganda.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns had a negative impact on the protection of children’s rights in Uganda. This period increased the number of domestic violence cases, defilement, and teenage pregnancies, with over 1050 pregnancies being reported daily. Additionally, according to UNICEF, 85% of children have experienced at least one violent disciplinary action. The current rates of teenage pregnancy, in addition to the high levels of gender-based violence negatively impacts the retention of boys and girls in school, denying them the opportunity to finish their schooling.
Recent statistics from UNICEF’s 2022 Uganda Annual Report show that 38% of children between 3-5 years old are attending school; 90% between 6-12 years; 78% between 13-18 years; and 23% between 19-24 years. We must not let up in our efforts to get children into school and keep them in school as this not only gives effect to their right to education, it also improves their employment prospects and the prospects of ending cycles of poverty.
Tied to the issue of education is that of child labour. Statistics reveal that 6.2 million children between 5-17 years old are involved in child labour in Uganda. Engaging in child labour not only means that children are unable to receive an education, but child labour also drives children to perform exploitative and dangerous work.
Another shock that impacted children’s rights in Uganda was the drought in the Karamoja subregion which threatened the survival of over 20,000 children. The drought has also resulted in around 55% of the population in the region suffering from food insecurity, an increase from 29% in 2020. Food insecurity negatively impacts the physical and mental development of children along with negatively impacting them at school.
Although it is important to highlight the work that needs to be done to protect children’s rights in Uganda, it is also important to highlight the work that has been done to address some of the problems listed above.
In 2022, more that 193,000 children and adults learned the key concepts of prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA) and how to access PSEA services. Additionally, 19,000 women and children accessed gender-based violence risk mitigation, prevention or response interventions.
To tackle teenage pregnancy, the government launched a national campaign under the theme, ‘Protect the Girl, Save the Nation’, which was led by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development; the Ministry of Education and Sports; and the Ministry of Health, with support from UNICEF and UNFPA. Throughout the campaign, a combination of online and offline tools were used to amplify advocacy messages.
To create public awareness and mobilize the country on the issues of defilement, child marriage, teenage pregnancy and to promote positive parenting, radio messages, radio dramas and talk shows were aired in local languages on three radio stations we partner with (Voice of Tooro 101 FM, Life FM and Jubilee FM) reaching an audience of more than 6.5 million people in western, mid-western and south-western Uganda.
These are just some of the initiatives that have been implementing to protect and promote children’s rights in Uganda. We, at PLANE, will continue to do our part in working to protect and promote the rights of children in Uganda.