International Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16 every year since1991, when it was first initiated by the Organization of African Unity, now the African Union. It honours those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day in South Africa where thousands of black school children took to the streets in 1976, in a march more than half a mile long, to protest the inferior quality of their education and to demand their right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of young boys and girls were gunned down; and in the two weeks of protest that followed, more than a hundred people were killed and more than a thousand were injured.
According to Mustapha Samateh, President of Young People in the Media, The Day of the African Child has since served to highlight issues affecting the lives of children and young people around the world. This year’s theme is: “Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all children‘s rights. He noted that The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child decided on this theme during its 25th ordinary session in April 2015 as the theme for the DAC for 2016.
The President of the Child-led advocacy organization noted that in 2015, the ACERWC commissioned a continental study on the impact of armed conflict on children in Africa as part of its efforts to elevate child protection agenda in conflict situation in Africa as well as a guarantee of the protection and preservation of life and well-being of the African children.
He noted that The celebration of the DAC 2016 focusing on -Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all children‘s rights, therefore, will come at an opportune time in the sense that the continental study on the impact of armed conflict on children in Africa would have been completed. As Member States of the continental body he noted that the Gambia celebrating the DAC 2016, it gives us a deeper understanding of the impact of armed conflict on children in the continent.
During the celebration, therefore, it must be understood that in the devastation that accompanies conflicts and crisis, children, being one of the most vulnerable segments of the civilian population, are negatively affected in various ways. The protection of all children‘s rights must be prioritized.The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) calls upon all Member States of the African Union (AU) to celebrate the Day of the African Child (DAC) on 16 June 2016. It was in 1991 that the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the then Organization of African Unity (OAU) instituted the DAC for the first time.
This was in memory of the Soweto Uprising in South Africa during apartheid. Since 1991, the OAU and its successor, the AU, have since used the DAC to celebrate children in Africa as well as to inspire sober reflection and action towards addressing the plethora of challenges that African children face on a daily basis.
Young People in the Media in partnership with partners in child protection, including UNICEF, will commemorate this year’s DAC in the coming weeks.
The 2016 DAC is co-organized with the African Union Peace and Security Department. As the African Union organ tasked with implementing the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the decisions of the Peace and Security Council (PSC), the African Union Peace and Security Department (AUPSD) is the key entry point for mainstreaming child protection into the continental peace and security agenda. The African Peace and Security Architecture is an important development in African capabilities to address peace and security challenges on the continent.
Every society hopes and expects that its children will grow up to be capable and responsible citizens who will contribute immensely to the development of their societies. This can only be attained if children are brought up in an environment where they are loved, cared, Cherished and are free from poverty, conflict and violence.
About Young People in the Media
Young People in the Media is an advocacy led organization of children and young people that aims at supporting and consolidates the efforts of young people working towards promoting and protecting the rights of the Child. It seeks to empower children from different background within a framework of a common participatory platform to share their thoughts, ideas, and to showcase their talents.
It is also create an avenue where young people discuss and tackle burning issues concerning and affecting them in their daily life, address inequalities amongst children and young people, promote and protect the rights and well-being of children in society, advocate on burning issues such as child abuse and exploitation , teenage and unwanted pregnancy, early marriage, raise awareness on the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child, The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and create strong links between sectors and organizations.