Making sure children’s voices are heard

13 July 2021 | Youth

Wetumwene Shikage

It takes a great organisation to recognise children’s issues, but civil society organisations worldwide contribute in unique and essential ways to development as innovative agents of change and social transformation of children’s issues.

Over the past 30 years, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNCRC and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) have provided the fulcrum around which child rights in Africa have evolved. More fundamentally, these frameworks reinforce the four principles of children’s rights: non- discrimination, best interest of the child, protection, survival and development.

On Monday 5 July, the Child Rights Network for Southern Africa (CRNSA) held a virtual meeting which outlined the organisation’s purpose and involvement with children’s issues. This was presented following the basis of the three objectives of CRNSA, which are to appreciate children’s issues and implications, open channels for communication, build partnerships, and profile issues through the media.

Among those who attended the virtual meeting were members of the media from Mozambique, Eswatini, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Angola, Lesotho and South Africa. They were each given the opportunity to mention expectations from this meeting. Various members of the media mentioned the expectation to: become knowledgeable of different children’s issues; be well equipped to create an engaging platform which can improve in giving messages and better articulate them to the greater audience; to learn from other societies and understand similarities and differences within the region; share how they make sure that children’s voices are heard and not the media speaking for them; find the way forward by bringing issues to the table; making sure that they can cover and report children’s issues; and to help children enjoy their rights.

Civil society organisations require people to meet in order to structure themselves by speaking with one voice to the regional space. If we are serious about the future, we will take this seriously to make sure that children rights and voices are heard. This can be achieved by making use of strategic ways that work when the media understands and speaks about children’s rights holistically.

It is important to adopt to the differences and dangers surrounding children, making sure that children are protected from technological threats; they must make use of technology rightfully to avoid child trafficking, cyberbullying and pornography.

Having a national budget which caters to the needs of children is another way to make sure children are taken care of and a method which can be used to determine whether countries truly invest in children. Children who are illiterate, trafficked, disabled, abused in households, in conflict with the law or in the streets are children who need an organisation to stand for them when their voices are not heard and the media can make sure that these children who wish to speak out are heard.