Act with urgency on issues affecting child rights:Children tell CSOs and government.
By Elysee Niyigena
Kigali, 18 January 2018 - “Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and relevant government bodies should act with urgency on issues deterring children from enjoying their rights. In my village, there are children who have dropped out of schools, and most of them have become unruly”, said Jean Bonheur, 14-year-old, during a consultative workshop about the alternative reports related to the United Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter.
The workshop organized by Save the Children in collaboration with child rights Coalition Umwana ku Isonga brought together 60 children from 20 districts of Rwanda, aimed to collecting children’s views to inform the CSOs report but at the same time help children to gather views that will be included in their own report to be submitted to the above mentioned treaty bodies.
“We are excited about seeing our ideas considered and included in the report related to child rights issues. Children dropout of school mostly due to conflicts in homes or family breakdown, which one of the urgent issues that need urgent attention”, said Clementine, 12 year- old, with a smile.
Considering that workshop was participatory the facilitators agreed with the children to identify a set of overarching issues to be included in the report. After a participatory discussion and brainstorming session, the children developed a list of 4 critical issues, such as Child labor, school dropouts, child neglect, teenage early pregnancies. Linking these issues to thoughts of their own hopes and aspirations, the children and their facilitators spent many hours of the workshop fine tuning the report in children’s words.
The one day-long workshop concluded successfully with an impressive report, showing marked improvement in the children’s participation skills and understanding of children’s rights.
Promesse Bizimana, one of the participants, thanked Save the Children for the opportunity to express themselves creatively and for teaching them more about their responsibilities. He added, “I learnt all children have rights, such as a right to a good education. But with rights comes responsibilities, which we also need to follow."
Marcel Sibomana, Child Rights Governance Manager at Save the Children, highlighted the importance of involving children reporting on child rights. “Children’s involvement in both State reporting and civil society complementary reporting is important. It promotes their right to participation, and empowers them. Children know better if their rights are being respected or not”.
Save the Children is keen to see children submitting their own reports to child rights treaty bodies, which we believe is again. “We are thankful to the Government of Rwanda, to all our civil society stakeholders and to the European Union which is financially supporting this activity”, said Marcel.