The National Gender and Equality Commission joins the rest of the world in commemorating the Day of the African Child (DAC) 2018. The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) has selected “Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development.” as the theme for 2018 commemoration of the DAC. The theme builds on the momentum created by the DAC 2017 theme “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Children in Africa: Accelerating, Protection, Empowerment and Equal Opportunity.” The focus of this year’s theme is to emphasize the need to mainstream children’s rights in all (Agenda 2030) developmental programmes implemented by Member States.
Here in Kenya, the Day of the African Child 2018 provides an opportunity to reflect on the emerging issues affecting children. The level of violence, abuse and exploitation of children is still high despite the existence of progressive laws to protect children. Lately there has been a surge on domestic violence cases which have spiraled out of control and resulted to the harming and sometimes loss of lives of children. Other issues facing children in Kenya include: Child labour, child trafficking, abandonment, defilement and physical assault, lack of voice on the issues involving them and negative cultural practices such as FGM, forced marriage among others.
The rights of the child that is survival, protection, development and participation are protected under the Children’s Act (2001) and Article 53 of the Constitution of Kenya (2010). The regional and international legal and policy frameworks in support of the best interests of the child include African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) and the Millennium Development Goals.
As we reflect on this year’s theme –“Leave no child behind for Africa’s Development”, we are reminded of the severe vulnerabilities that Kenyan children continue to face. It is important to note that different categories of children exist within the special interests group. We have orphans, children with disabilities and those from minority and marginalized areas. The unique challenges by each of these categories require special attention to ensure they enjoy their full rights as enshrined in the constitution. The Commission urges duty bearers from different sectors and at both levels of government to take action to ensure our children are protected, empowered and have access to opportunities to realize their full potential.
Dr. Florence Wachira, MBS