Celebrate Day of the African Child
"All children have the right to participate – to be seen, and to be heard!” This is the message being shouted aloud on this year’s Day of the African Child.
The Day of the African Child, observed around the world every June 16th since 1991, is a day to reflect on the progress being made toward ensuring the rights, health, education, equality and protection of all Africa's children.
Picked by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, this theme has been hailed as a courageous choice, and African governments are being lobbied to give children more space in public debate and decision making.
Plan in Africa has worked closely with the committee since 2005 and welcomes this year’s choice of theme both on the political as well as on the programmatic level. Like every year, the Day of the African Child is the occasion for children from across the region to celebrate their day with Plan and to ensure that they are being both heard and seen.
In keeping with the theme of participation, today also marks the launch of Plan West Africa's Youth Media Website http://dacday.blogspot.com. This blogspot gives children and young people from across Africa the opportunity to express themselves and to react on issues that affect them.
Examples of Plan's Day of the African Child activities include:
In Mali — Plan and regional Rap Network AURA, which works to promote African unity and child protection, have organized a Mega Concert in Bamako with the theme 'Children have the right to participate'.
More than 20,000 visitors are expected to watch the rappers portraying children living in difficult circumstances in their rap opera “Poto Poto”.
Rappers will also meet with children and youth to debate issues that affect them as well as hear young people’s own initiatives to improve youth participation and development problems in their communities.
Children from partnering communities are also organizing public events to inform adults and peers about their rights and to celebrate.
In Togo — King Messan, a popular musician in the country, is meeting with children and youth to discuss their rights and protection. The event will be broadcast on radio stations to ensure broader reach among children and adults.
In Benin — Children are taking part in peaceful rallies to inform their communities about their rights. Schools in partner communities also organized a competition on child rights on Sunday (June 15) with the winners given their awards on the Day of the African Child Ceremony being held today.
Children clubs are also organizing drama and theater competitions and, in the evening, public debates with municipal decision makers and child rights advisors will be held at municipal level.
In Cameroon — In addition to child media clubs organizing public debates on the topic of child participation, Plan is supporting the electoral process for the national children’s parliament across its program areas. The radio project is also organizing broadcasts to report on the electoral proceedings, including lessons learned by the young voters.
In Burkina Faso — The area of Zorgho is hosting an important public event to celebrate the day, organized by the national Child Rights Network. Children from partner communities and Plan staff will be present. Other activities include a football competition, Universal Birth Registration mobilization events and cultural activities.
In Niger — Plan Niger marks its 10th Anniversary in 2008! Today we'll be combining the events for the Journee de l'Enfant Africaine with our birthday! For JDAC we are working with the National Government and a committee of local NGOs and UNICEF on several activities, including a live television debate on participation among children from the eight regions of Niger. Two of the children taking part are members of "school governments" set up by Plan. These are mini-parliaments for students, which allow them to participate and take decisions in running of school affairs.
For Plan Niger's birthday, a photo exhibition has been organized alongside a celebration to which government Ministers and local Ambassadors have been invited. Events include the showing of a newly made documentary film about Plan, a free concert by local artists especially for children and, of course, a huge cake with candles!
Finally, children from several West African countries will participate in web blogs to discuss the topic of this year’s theme.
In Uganda — Plan funded a pre-DAC children's conference on Friday 13 June which brought together children supported by Plan and other NGOs, as well as children from some schools in the central region to discuss ways in which they would like to participate in issues concerning their and national development.
The memorandum the children came up from the event with will be presented to the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Welfare today (June 16). The conference is arranged by the National Council for Children, a semi-autonomous arm which is involved in guiding policy issues concerning children and it falls directly under the Ministry of Gender.
Today (Monday) The National Celebrations of the Day of the African Child are taking place in Luwero, one of our program areas. Plan has arranged for children from this area and other organizations to be heavily involved and there will be lots of entertainment and an exhibition.
In Ethiopia — Plan Ethiopia is holding a Forum Cinema on June 18 in commemoration of the Day of the African Child. This will involve a 20-minute drama by Plan-supported children which will in turn be shown on the Ethiopian National Television on June 22 and 29. There will also be a discussion on the performance and child participation where experts will be invited to share their views.
In Malawi — Plan Malawi, the Malawi Government, UNICEF, Everychild and World Vision jointly organized the 7th Malawi Children’s parliament from June 13 to 14 under the theme 'Right to participation, let children be seen and heard'.
The session involved 110 children from all over Malawi including 20 sponsored communities. The children came up with resolutions which will be presented to cabinet ministers and senior members of parliament today (June 16) at Lilongwe.
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