Liberia will join the rest of the continent today, Thursday, June 16, in observance of the International Day of the African Child (DAC) which has been commemorated every year since 1991.
The DAC is being observed under the national theme “Crisis and Conflict in Liberia-Providing a Safe Space for Children’s Rights.”
On June 16th every year, governments, NGOs, international organizations and other stakeholders assemble to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the full realization of the rights of children in Africa.
The Day was first initiated by the then OAU in honor of hundreds of young students who participated in the Soweto uprising in 1976. Many of them were shot dead while protesting for improvement in the quality of their education and demanding their right to be taught in their own language instead of Africaans language of the white South Africans.
The DAC’s celebration also raises awareness of the continuing need for improvement in the standard of education provided to African children and to enroll and encourage school age children to stay in school and complete their education.
Gender, Children & Social Protection Minister Julia Duncan-Cassell has pledged her ministry’s support in championing children’s rights issues. Minister Duncan-Cassell called on the Liberian public, particularly the religious community, to join and intensify the campaign against rape and all forms of violence against children in Liberia.
Furthermore, the Gender Minister warned parents against the abandonment of their children, stressing that persistent non-support and family abandonment are on the increase.
Rape constitutes 56.1% of violence against children, while sexual Assault and physical Assault/domestic constitute 17.5% and 17.8% respectively.
As part of the national observance of the DAC, the Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection along with the Child Protection Network (CPN) and the Children Representative Forum of Liberia have been engaged in a series of outreach related activities including leadership and advocacy training for children ahead of the official celebration. The activities have been taking place in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County and other parts of the country.
The outreach is part of initiatives to also identify with vulnerable children by sharing gifts and carrying out awareness on the importance of the day, the role of Liberia’s Children Representative Forum and Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) affected children, Street Children, Orphans, Disabled and Children in hospitals.
The official program will take place in Robertsport. The day’s celebration will begin with a grand parade beginning at 9a.m through the principal street of Robertsport, and will be followed by an official indoor program at the city hall. Members of theLegislature, the Judiciary, other top ranking government officials, child protection organizations, civil society and the United Nations family are expected to be in attendance.