17-year-old girl demands ratification of child protection charter

17-year-old girl demands ratification of child protection charter
The African Union Auditorium in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa (photo credit: Anadolu Agency)

A 17-year-old schoolgirl has joined those calling for the final ratification of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child to cushion children from social crimes. 

The Day of the African Child (DAC) 2021 was celebrated in June, coming 30 years after the adoption of the Charter. The theme was ‘Accelerate Implementation of Agenda 2040’ for African children.

Speaking at the lobby event for the final ratification of the charter in Juba on Wednesday, Elizabeth Aguil William –who is a fourth-year student from Juba Diocesan Model Secondary school— called on all stakeholders to work together to achieve the final ratification of the charter.

We are here to add our voices to call for the final ratification of the children charter as right owners. Days are gone when children’s issues were discussed in their absence. Now is the time to work together with children leading [by] the front line of our rights,” Aguil stressed.

“That theme for 2021 cannot come to pass if we do not agree for the government, parliament, UN agencies, CRC and all those who are invited and the representative of the vice president for gender and youth cluster. [It] cannot happen unless we work together and [in] solidarity we will make this country pass,” she added.

Aguil urged the government to focus on the theme of the day of the African child and invest more money for children to improve the future of the country.

“When more money is invested for the country’s future, [we] will be better and this is because there [are] many children out there not only on the streets collecting bottles, walking naked, sleeping in front of shops like they don’t have shelter,” said Aguil.

Aguil emphasized that more needs to be done to ensure children on the street and those involved in criminal activities helped because she believes some of those children have homes.

“Those Toronto boys have their head and when they are engaged they will speak what pains them and what makes them become Toronto. Talk to them peacefully and they will change even [other] children on the streets,’’ Aguil persuaded. 

She stressed the importance of creating dialogue and engaging children who have rebelled from their homes so that people can hear their grievances and provide a solution. 

“There are children who have homes but they are rebellious like the Toronto boys who have been disturbing many people in the country and youth who decided to be thieves. It is because I don’t believe there are plans or campaigns by the government or civil societies to dialogue with them,” she said.

Aguil said a follow-up should be done to ensure what has been discussed in the workshop is effected to allow children to enjoy their right to freedom.

“If we go out from here, what will be done so that the president will put his signature on the discussion of the ratification of the African charter? And that will only happen when we all know that all of us have a role to play and all of us should take part so that the ratification should take place,” she said.

The girl however challenged the government about the lack of access to education to children in the rural areas across the country.

“I want to ask [about] the government plan for schools because last year in Pibor, the exams were postponed because those children were not taught and they had to be given lessons for some weeks before they sat for their paper. What is the government doing concerning children?” she asked.