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Africa Children Summit Empowers Children to Shape Policies and Programs for Their Welfare

By MaryAnne Musilo,

Mtoto news, Wish Hub Africa, and other partners, held the Africa Children Summit that aimed to empower African children to become more involved in their communities and create a spacw where they feel seen, heard, and engaged by their peers.

The Summit was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from April 10th to April 12th, 2023, and provided a platform for children from across Africa and beyond to discuss issues that affect them and to share their recommendations on policy interventions.

With the theme was “Seen, Heard, and Engaged,” the inaugural event engaged children aged 10 to 17 from across Africa, with open registration for every child on the continent. Children hosted the event, and the discussions were child-led, enabling them to share their experiences, unique challenges, and interventions by their governments.

The Summit was graced by several dignitaries, including the Vice-Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children, members of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the Chairperson of the NCAJ Standing Committee on Access to and Administration of Justice for Children, and a Judge of the High Court of Kenya.

During the event, Diogene from Rwanda shared his thoughts stating that the summit means our ideas can be heard and respected, so I can now share my ideas somewhere, and they must be respected. When children participate in solutions, there will be a positive change.

“The issues children are facing in Sierra Leone are similar to all African countries.” Foday from Sierra Leone added.

The speakers at the Summit emphasized the importance of empowering children, protecting their rights, and enabling them to become child-rights defenders.

Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, noted that children are not a problem that needs to be solved, but a strong human capital that should be invested in.

Prof. Philip D. Jaffé, Vice-Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, emphasized the need to protect the rights of pregnant girls and improve healthcare access.

Hon. Alassane Moulaye Sidikou, Member of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, encouraged children to take their rights and become defenders of children’s rights.

The Summit ended with a call for the outcomes raised by the children to be monitored to ensure they are implemented by governments, their agencies, and other stakeholders and will continue to rotate in different African countries, with a focus on amplifying children’s voices and empowering them to become more involved in shaping policies and programs for their welfare.

Philip Thigo, the Board Chair of Mtoto News, emphasized the importance of technology in empowering children but also acknowledged the risks that come with it.

“Children are at risk of technology exploitation more than ever before. We must ensure that their access to technology is not unfairly positioned, and they are not educated by machines that don’t understand values and ethics.” Mr Thigo said.

Dr. Mustafa Yusafa Ali also emphasized the importance of using religion as a resource to engage and advocate for children’s rights that are undermined by some religious beliefs.

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