In observance of its 30th commemoration, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in collaboration with the Child Protection Network ((CPN) and the Liberia National Children Representative Forum with partners celebrated the ‘DAY of the AFRICAN CHILD’ (DAC) in style on Wednesday, 16 June 2021.
The celebration which was held in Sanniquelle, Nimba County, brought together scores of Liberian children from across Liberia’s 15 sub-political divisions in memorializing the famous 1976 student uprising in Soweto, South Africa, when dozens of children were murdered while demanding for their right to education.
The Day of African Child was held under a national theme: “Promoting positive arts, culture heritage to accelerate the implementation of the agenda 2040 in making Liberia a better place for children,” while on the global stage, the DAC was commemorated under the theme: “30-years after the adoption of the Charter: accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2040 for an Africa fit for children.”
Serving as keynote speaker at the official DAC program in Sanniquelle, outgoing deputy speaker of the Liberia National Children Representative Forum (LNCRF), Hulaimatu C. Diallo said, access to education remains a major challenge for thousands of children specifically for girls.
According to Ms. Diallo, thousands of children in Liberia are still missing out on primary education, indicating that many children have to walk many miles to school.
“Honestly, we have strong child protection laws in Liberia, but we lack implementation and due diligence. We need practical action against child abuse in Liberia. People must be held accountable for violating and abusing children. Parents who are in the habit of sending their children to sell in the streets must be held accountable for their actions, we cannot afford to keep risking the lives of our future leaders,” the outgoing deputy speaker stressed.
The LNCRF former executive further indicated that access to decision making spaces for children in Liberia still remains a major challenge, thereafter, insisting that it is about time that children be included in what she referred to as serious national decision-making processes and the implementation of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).
Diallo iterated that the PAPD will not succeed if more children are not given the opportunity to grow, participate and strive to reach their full potential.
The LNCRF’s outgoing deputy speaker additionally challenged government’s partners to demonstrate their commitment for the betterment of children in Liberia by ensuring that children are included in their respective programs, especially children living with disabilities, others who are orphans, those residing in disadvantaged communities, and those in hard-to-reach places, noting “It is only when we do this that the children of Liberia today can be seen as the prepared future leaders.”
In furtherance, Diallo called for the swift amendment of the 2011 Children Law of Liberia, emphasizing the inclusion of punishments for perpetrators who will violate the Children’s Law.
She additionally recommended that children be included in the national budget, and that a special representative of children be designated to the Office of the President amongst others.
For her part, Acting Deputy Minister of Children And Social Protection, Maminah Carr, speaking on behalf of Gender Minister, Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr, who could not be in Sanniquelle due to her presence at a legislative hearing at the time, applauded the commitment of the Liberian government in ensuring a safe space for the children of Liberia.
Acting Deputy Minister Carr recounted the role of President George Manneh Weah in addressing challenges confronting the children’s populace here, indicating that the President’s declaration of a national emergency on rape helped to further champion the fight against rape and forms of violence against women and children.
The Gender Children and Social Protection acting boss extended special commendation on behalf of her boss, to the Child Protection Network of Liberia (CPN) and other local and international partners for their resilience and tirelessly effort in ensuring the protection of children.
She asserted that the rights of every child regardless their tribe, color or condition should be respected at all times thereby warning parents who are using their children as bread-winners to desist from such inhumane practice.
“On behalf of the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Williametta E. Saydee Tarr and the entire leadership of the Ministry, we want to say special thank you to the people of Nimba County, particularly to the leadership of Sanniquelle City and other ranking members of the county for the warm welcome. We wholeheartedly appreciate your support in observance of the Day of African Child,” Minister Carr added.
“We also want to congratulate the newly elected officers of the Liberia National Children Representative Forum, and at the same time, we want to thank the outgoing leadership of the Liberia Children Representative Forum for their dedicatory role played over the period,” she continued,
In the same vein, Minister Carr reassured the Ministry’s commitment in continuing its advocacy aimed at ensuring a safer environment for every child.
She promised to work closely with LNCRF in addressing some of the challenges it faced over the period.
The program was graced by several partners including UNICEF, SOS CHLDREN Village, Plan International, Save the Children, Liberia Red Cross, Lonestar Cell MTN, the Swedish Embassy and representatives of Child Protection Network.