An inclusive nation for all children
Honouring the commitment made at Kasane, Namibian Vice President Nangolo Mbumba visited Lusaka, Zambia, to meet the presidents of Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe to mark this year's World Children's Day and to live up to the pledge, report on progress made, and hear the challenges children have encountered since the previous World Children’s Day celebration in 2021.
More to do
The four heads of state were part of an interactive panel discussion with children in which the youngsters shared their experiences in the four different countries, the challenges they face, and possible solutions with the presidents.
The young panellists highlighted that more needs to be done to accommodate children with disabilities in society, including at schools, on public transportation, in clinics, and in extracurricular activities.
They added that governments and partners should find innovative ways whereby they disseminate informative and productive lessons on entrepreneurship and financial literacy, among others, on popular social media applications like TikTok, Instagram and Twitter, where children spend most of their time. Correspondingly, digital inclusivity in schools was a key concern that children shared.
At the same time, the heads of state reported on the progress they have made in their respective countries, including making mention of several activities children are engaged in where they communicate directly to those that have the power to make changes.
President Hichilema urged children to be responsible and hard-working, reiterating that children should not work in isolation but work together as a team with government leaders and partners to create a better future for every child.
Speaking at a commemorative event in Namibia, Metarere Tjihenuna, who was born with a rare defect called phocomelia syndrome, said "even though I don’t have legs, I can also do everything that those with legs can do. Disability does not mean inability."
During the opening remarks at the Children’s parliament, Peter Katjavivi, Speaker of the National Assembly, said: "I pledge to open parliament to children as it provides an opportunity and serves as the mouthpiece of children and young persons."
He added that as Speaker, he will ensure that they uphold their promise with regard to children’s rights and what Children’s Day and associated celebrations aim to uphold.
Rivaldo Kavanga, the chairperson of the health committee of the Children’s parliament of Namibia, said that more needs to be done by presidents to tackle and mitigate the impacts of climate change, especially for children, as they are the most vulnerable to the effects thereof.
"Climate change denies children the right to go to school; it denies them the right to safety and protection; and it denies them the right to clean running water, food and shelter," Kavanga said, while taking note of the devastating droughts not only impacting Namibia but many other African countries.
Kavanga also urged the presidents to work closely alongside children as partners as they manage their respective countries and the region.