CHILDREN ADVOCATE FOR INCLUSION IN DECISION-MAKING ON CHILD PROTECTION

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By Precious Mupenzi

  • The South African government has made significant strides in child protection, driven by progressive legislation and policies designed to uphold children’s rights. A key element of these efforts is consulting children on Pillar 7 of the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (NSP-GBVF), showcasing the government’s commitment to advocating for children’s rights.
  • During these consultations, children voiced their dissatisfaction with being excluded from decision-making processes. They expressed a strong desire to be involved in discussions about issues that directly affect them, underscoring the need for their perspectives to be considered.
  • At the launch of the Child Protection Week at the Mitta Seperepere Convention Centre in Kimberley, Digkang Morudi, the 17-year-old President of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Parliament, emphasised that protecting children’s rights is a collective responsibility. He called for the inclusion of children’s voices in decision-making and stressed the importance of translating the 7th pillar into all languages in a child-friendly version.

The South African government has made significant strides in child protection, driven by progressive legislation and policies designed to uphold children’s rights. A key element of these efforts is the consultation of children on Pillar 7 of the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (NSP-GBVF), showcasing the government’s commitment to advocating for children’s rights.

During these consultations, children voiced their dissatisfaction with being excluded from decision-making processes. They expressed a strong desire to be involved in discussions about issues that directly affect them, underscoring the need for their perspectives to be considered.

At the launch of the Child Protection event held at the Mitta Seperepere Convention Centre in Kimberley, Digkang Morudi, the 17-year-old President of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Parliament, represented the voices of nearly 21 million South African children. Morudi presented feedback on Pillar 7 of the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (NSP-GBVF), emphasising that protecting children’s rights is a collective responsibility that extends beyond the Department of Social Development.

“Protecting the rights of children is a duty that belongs to every sector of our society,” Morudi stated. “Our voices matter, and we want to be included in all decision-making processes that concern our lives. It is crucial that we are heard and that our concerns are addressed.”

Morudi highlighted that children have decided that the development of the 7th pillar, which addresses children’s issues, needs to be included in the NSP-GBVF. Furthermore, they called for this pillar to be translated into all languages in a child-friendly version that children can easily understand.

Morudi also reported on the progress made thus far, noting that a task team composed of government departments, child protection non-profit organisations, and social development provincial representatives met on March 19 and April 9, 2024. However, he expressed concern about the turnaround time regarding the way forward on the South African Children’s Manifesto, which has been submitted to the government.

“We earnestly request that our voices be heard and our needs be addressed. Nothing for us without us,” Morudi asserted, reflecting the growing impatience and determination among the children.

A Grade 12 learner aspiring to study medicine further reminded the children of South Africa about their rights, stating, “Children of South Africa, you have rights, and you need to advocate for your rights.”

As South Africa continues to build on its legislative and policy framework, the active participation of children in these processes will be essential. Ensuring that their voices are heard and their rights are protected is not just a governmental responsibility but a societal imperative.

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