Joining Forces For Africa (JOFA) convened for a media breakfast and round table to discuss ‘the impact of food security crisis on children and eliminating harmful practices affecting children’, in respect to the recently commemorated Day Of The African Child celebrated on 16th June.
The event presents an opportunity to assess progress on the adoption of policies that support the African child; and a platform for recommending action against harmful practices that affect children.
Among the most prominent harmful practices affecting children in Africa are child marriage, female genital mutilation, child labor, and various emerging forms such as online child sexual exploitation and abuse of children (OCSEA).
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA 2022) estimates that the number of girls undergoing female genital mutilation each year is projected to rise from 4.1 million in 2019 to 4.6 million girls in the year 2030 with a vast majority coming from Sub-Saharan Africa.
There is an increase in cases of online child sexual abuse and exploitation that have come with increased access to digital platforms and devices by the children.
A situation that has been exacerbated by the ever-increasing humanitarian emergencies caused by conflict and natural disasters, the COVID-19 pandemic, exclusion of women, girls and young people from policy and decision-making processes and poor implementation of the developed policy frameworks.
To mitigate all this, JOFA calls upon National and sub-national governments, and policymakers, in partnership with academia, and civil society, including those working with children and young people, media, community leaders, and faith-based organizations, to:
- Develop and implement policies and laws that protect children from harmful practices
and allocate cost budgets for child protection,
- Tackle the challenges that perpetuate the violation of children’s rights, such as gender
inequality, discrimination, poor access to education and poverty,
- Strengthen legal and justice systems to protect the rights of children especially girls and
take decisive action against those who perpetrate violence against children, and most
- Involve young people and girls in policy and decision-making process by ensuring that
their voices are heard and considered in all aspects touching on their lives.
Mary Thiong’o, Assistant Director, Children Services, National Council for Children’s Services, Kenya echoed the same by calling upon everyone to work together to ensure all children are protected.
“I am calling upon everyone to work together to ensure that all our children are protected and their rights are safeguarded,” she said.
Joining Forces For Africa is an alliance of the six-largest child-focused international NGOs;
World Vision, ChildFund Kenya, SOS Children’s Village International, PLAN International Kenya and Terre Des Hommes.