Jul 6, 2011, 3:46 PM
The Voice of the Young, a child advocacy group under the Child Protection Alliance (CPA), on Saturday held its 2008 first children's Bantaba (annual gathering) at the President's Awards Scheme in Bakau. The Bantaba was also used to commemorate the day of the African Child.
The African Unity theme for this year is "Adolescent participation", while in The Gambia, a localised theme was "listen to Children-Every Voice Counts".
In her keynote address at the opening ceremony, Hon. Fatoumatta Jahumpa Ceesay, Speaker of the National Assembly, said that social change give and take of participation encouraged children to assume increasing responsibilities as active, tolerant and democratic citizens in formation.
For adults, she said they must ensure that there is opportunity, time and a safe place for the opinions of children to be heard and given due weight. She stressed that promoting the participation of children in decision making is the surest way of creating a better world for them. " When we listen to children, when we value what children have to say, then we will be able to understand their passion, questions, fears, challenges, enthusiasm and hopes for the future," said the House Speaker.
She stressed that if we are to have any success, in meeting the MDG's, World Fit for Children and other global commitments we must all individually and collectively, enhance the participation of children in all development initiatives and programmes.
Madam Ceesay advised young leaders that in as much as they have rights they must also carry out their responsibilities. She assured children of the government's continued support at all times. She also commended the CPA and Save the Children Sweden for organising and funding the event respectively.
Other speakers included, Alhagie Sainey Suso deputy permanent secretary at the Department of State for Justice and MS. Min-Whee Kang, UNICEF Representative in The Gambia.
Lamin Ceesay President of Voice of the Young delivered the welcoming remarks.