15 Jun 2013 10:50
WINDHOEK, 15 JUN (NAMPA) - A representative of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has applauded the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare for its commitments to improve the lives of Namibian children.
Michaela Marques de Sousa said this on Friday evening during the official launch of a booklet which gives guidelines on the minimum standards and quality of care for Namibian children living in home-care facilities across the country.
The launch of the booklet forms part of Namibian events to celebrate the Day of the African Child.
?We (UNICEF) thank the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare for continuing to improve the lives of the children in Namibia. By creating platforms to discuss and advocate for the children's rights, Namibia demonstrates a strong commitment to the implementation of international and regional legal instruments such as the United Nations? Convention of the Rights of and Welfare of the Child,? explained De Sousa.
According to De Sousa, it was a great honour and privilege for her to be among so many Namibians who have done so much for the children of the world and the Namibian children in particular, and 'this contribution means so much to UNICEF and Namibia as working partners'.
De Sousa informed the gathering that Namibia is at the forefront of developing comprehensive responses to orphans and vulnerable children in the country.
She said Namibia has made some great strides in improving service delivery to tens of thousands of vulnerable children through access to education, social services, birth registration and child protection, especially to those children who were directly affected by HIV/AIDS and other related diseases.
De Sousa said she was particularly pleased that the Namibian Government is working closely with UNICEF and other developing partners to explore mechanisms to further introduce ground-breaking social protection interventions to reduce poverty among all children in Namibia.
?Namibia has also taken significant steps to promote child participation as enshrined in Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. This is done by ensuring that the voices of the children are heard, and that child-initiated shared decisions take place.
UNICEF with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare has been part of the multi-sectoral stakeholders' collaboration which ensured the development of the 116 Child Helpline, and supported the interaction between the Helpline and service providers,? stated De Sousa.
She, however, noted that despite the progress made by Namibia with regards to the protection of the rights and lives of the children, the country still has to overcome the challenges of poverty, violence and diseases before social justice is served and the children's rights are claimed by the children themselves.
?The Namibian society still tolerates and condones certain recurrent forms of violence against children, especially in families. Yet, we all know that no tradition, religion, belief, economic situation or educational method should justify these practices,? said De Sousa.
She expressed hope that the Gender Equality and Child Welfare Ministry will continue to work hand-in-hand with the civil society organisations and UNICEF as partners in order to ensure that the Child Care and Protection Bill and other child-related legal instruments are passed by the Namibian Parliament this year.
?At UNICEF, we remain committed to working together with Namibia for the full realisation of the rights and improving the lives of the Namibian children,? added De Sousa.
The Day of the African Child is observed every year on the continent on 16 June in respect of the children who died in 1976 in Soweto, South Africa, while fighting against the then-apartheid colonial regime in that country.