VICE PRESIDENT Kembo Mohadi is today expected here, where he will join regional leaders Presidents Hage Geingob of Namibia, Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia and Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana for this year’s sub-regional UNICEF World Children’s Day commemorations.
This year’s celebrations in the Namibian coastal city will be held under the theme “Renewing our Promise for Children’s Rights”.
The high-level gathering is expected to renew and reaffirm the four countries’ commitment to regional engagements in furtherance of promotion and protection of the rights of children.
It follows meetings that were held in Kasame, at the Kazungula quadripoint in Botswana, in 2021; and in Lusaka, Zambia, last year to hear children’s concerns, deliberate on various important strategies and foster solutions to the issues raised by the young in their respective countries.
In a statement, UNICEF said this year’s event will bring together over 200 children from the four countries, with thousands attending virtually, to discuss and share insights on how leaders can create an enabling environment for the young to realise their full potential.
“Heads of State are expected to grace the event to build on the regional engagements established in Botswana in 2021 and Zambia in 2022, where a commitment was made to create a Heads of State Network,” reads the statement.
“This network serves as a platform to discuss issues of mutual concern and develop concrete strategies to address children’s rights in their respective countries.”
This year’s World Children’s Day offers yet another opportunity for the regional leaders to reassert their commitment to uphold children’s rights, champion Sustainable Development Goals and ensure no child is left behind.
UNICEF has commended the multiple practical milestones attained by the four countries towards the Heads of State Network.
In Zimbabwe, as part of President Mnangagwa’s commitment to promoting children’s rights, Government has enacted the Marriages Act, which criminalises any act that promotes child marriages. The Act seeks to deal with the scourge of child marriages in the country, where it is estimated a third of girls are married before the age of 18 years.
Zimbabwe also made young people part of the delegation to last year’s Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change. This was part of the growing involvement of young people in the climate change debate, resulting in the development of the child-sensitive Nationally Determined Contribution and National Adaptation Plan.
There is also a department in President Mnangagwa’s office for people and children living with disabilities, which has been seized with making all learning institutions accessible for all in fulfilment of his mantra of leaving no one and no place behind.
The Government has also been at the forefront in speaking against drug and substance abuse, mostly by the youths.
Zambia has also made significant strides in catering for the youth through the introduction of free secondary education and adoption of the landmark Children’s Act.
Namibia has been applauded for embarking on a nationwide consultation with all stakeholders, including children with disabilities, on how the country should transform education and ensure no child is left behind.
It has also been working on narrowing the digital divide with a spirited initiative to connect schools and young people to the internet.
Botswana, on the other hand, has made giant steps in the use of technology to enhance learning through the Smart Botswana Digital Transformation Strategy.
It has also made efforts to address violence against children, with child-friendly police centres having been established in selected districts across the country.
UNICEF designated November 20 as World Children’s Day following the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the same date in 1989 by the United Nations General Assembly. The commemorations seek to promote international togetherness, raise awareness among children and improve their welfare.
The day unites governments all over the world in celebrating advancements made in achieving child rights, shedding light on critical issues affecting children’s lives and supporting young people to be advocates of their rights.