Every year, 16th June marks the Day of the African Child. This is a day that we, at Safe Child Africa have been celebrating for several years now. This year we will be marking the day with events in Nigeria including an inter-school debate on the use of corporal punishment, as well as a Q&A session where children can quiz representatives of local child rights groups, the government, UNICEF and the Children’s Parliament about how child rights should be protected.
The Day was first set up by the then Organisation of African Unity (now African Union) in 1991 in memory of the student uprising in Soweto, South Africa, where students marched in protest against the poor quality of education they received and demanded to be taught in their own languages. It is an occasion to both remember these children and to celebrate children in Africa, as well as a chance to lobby for action to address the challenges that African children still face.
Each year the Day has a different theme. This year it is focusing on the2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. But what does this mean?
In September 2015, the UN agreed a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, intended to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. These were the successors to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were eight anti-poverty targets that the world committed to achieving by 2015. Although the MDGs were not fully achieved, considerable progress was made, and so it is felt that having a unified agenda with clear targets would be hugely helpful in the fight against poverty and inequality. This is why the Agenda for Sustainable Development and its associated goals were agreed.
The focus of the Day of the African Child in 2017 is therefore to look at how these new Sustainable Development Goals can and should be used to uphold child rights. This blog series will talk about the ways that our projects contribute towards achieving these Goals and what else needs to be done.