A total of 10 delegates from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Kenya presented the Kigali Declaration at the African Children Summit, held from 10th to 12th April 2023 in Nairobi, Kenia.
The African Children Summit was a child-led conference for strengthening the visibility of children and their rights, following the motto: seen. heard. engaged. The Summit brought together children from across Africa and beyond to share their experiences on matters of children rights and protection; the unique challenges they face; interventions by their governments and share recommendations or solutions. The summit was organised by Mtoto News and supported by many differed actors like Nelson Mandela Children´s Fund, World Vision and giz (click here for more information). At the end of the Conference, a Outcome Statement was adopted, including the demands from working children and youths from Dialogue Works Kigali Declaration.
A total of 10 representatives of Dialogue Works from Zambia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Kenya participated in the Summit and presented the “Kigali Declaration” and its five core demands in a kreative session: 1. poverty reduction, 2. protection against exploitative child labor, 3. free and better education, 4. protection against violence and discrimination and 5. participation of affected people. Batsheba, one of the participants from Kenya said: “We are forced to work so that we can add on to what our parents are providing. If parents have decent jobs, we can focus more on our education.”
For example, Devine (12) from Zimbabwe, shared a powerful message through a self-written poem “Hopefull eyes” about Child Labour:
Hopeful eyes, happy smiles, soft hands, a million dreams.
Is this the identity of a child?
Then why do I see tear filled eyes, terrified faces, rough hands and shattered dreams, deprived on their childhood?
Overloaded with work, bear them to responsibility at such a young age,
So much to learn, so much to accomplish, but not given enough time.
Fight for your cause, Raise your voice
Stop labour exploitation. Why not protecting their rights to give them a bright future?
Why not protecting them from harmful drugs?
Why not protecting them from sexual abuse?
Why do families fail to support their children when they are in need?
Why do people fail to respect children’s views?
Why not protecting us as children form labour exploitation?
Put a smile back on their face, Give them the childhood that was stolen from them.
Raise your voice, Fight for your cause, Hear us.
During the summit, the youth were able to handover the declaration to key stakeholders: Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid (UN Special Representative on Violence against Children), Philip Jaffé (Vice Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child) and Martha Koome (Chief Justice in Kenya).
The video of the Session can be watched here (starting at minutes 39):