Gambia to create Children National Assembly

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Gambia National Youth Council (NYC) in collaboration with Child Protection Alliance, Department of Social Welfare, National Youth Parliament and National Assembly are set to launch a Children National Assembly in the country.

Supported by UNICEF, the initiative will be the first in The Gambia, the child-led and driven platform is meant to inspire and engage children to interact, discuss and dialogue with policy makers and authorities on issues affecting their growth and development.

Ahead of the launch in January 2019, UNICEF and partners are organizing a five-day capacity building for elected members of the Children National Assembly from all regions of the country which commenced Tuesday December 26. It will introduce the children to local and international instruments that safeguards the rights of children, Sustainable Development Goals and how they can contribute to national development.

Mariama Sima, advocacy and communication officer at the National Youth Council said the children national assembly will be none statutory platform where children will discuss issues affecting them and their role in national development.

Lamin K Saidy, program officer at Child Protection Alliance said the formation of children national assembly is not in any way doing children a favour but giving them their rights to have such spaces.

“This is what we are supposed to legally do for children, because Gambia is signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC) and other legal instruments. This has given the children the chance to participate and contribute to the country’s development,” he said.

Child protection officer at UNICEF Ousainou Sarr said the whole concept of the Children Assembly is not imported from the blues but a demand made by children themselves. “So many years ago from 2001, we have been organizing national platforms to bring children together to discuss their issues and out of the resolutions, they demanded a platform where they can also talk about their own issues,” he explained.

Mr. Sarr said children are human beings and they have the capability, capacity, feelings and can form opinions. “If we don’t give them the space to realize these rights, we are going to have adults who will be counted but not considered because they do not have opinion,” he  added that, “most of the time we take children as subjects, but they are human beings, they deserve to be heard and live like any other human being.”

He said this is why they want to give them space where they can talk about their own issues and come to government and authorities and raise their issues. If we disconnect from children when they are adult they will disconnect from us.

Author: Sulayman Ceesay
Source: Picture: Photo of participants during consultation in Basse, URR; Sometime in November 2018