By Tabora Bojang
Young people in the Kanifing Municipality during the nationwide sensitization tour for children have added their voices to calls by child rights campaigners, activists and NGOs to urge the government to establish a child welfare ministry that will solely be responsible for the management, coordination and the implementation of Children’s Act and other related policies.
The tour on the rights and roles of children in transitional justice process funded by UNICEF in partnership with the NYC is meant to amplify the voices of the young for the future of the Gambia to ensure they are not overlooked in the transitional justice process.
The workshop was held at the regional educational directorate region 1 where young people highlighted concerns on the degree of implementation of Children’s Act and all of its related laws as injustices and abuses of rights of children such as early marriage, FGM and exploitation continue to occur in society.
The department of social welfare is the government department responsible for the protection and promotion of children’s rights and welfare but many campaigners, activists and National Assembly select committee on health also observed that the department is well under-resourced and lacks the required support and capacity to address and resolve all the ordeals children are facing.
“Time has come for such violations to stop,” a student from Daddy Jobe Senior School observed while adding that government should work to establish a child ministry that will specifically be responsible for children’s welfare and put in place broader efforts and strategies.
“The government should establish a child affairs ministry so that our rights can be recognized and prioritized,” Fatima Muloshi, a student of Kairaba said.
Khadija of Ndows also observed: “The government should establish a child affair ministry in the Gambia because I believe that it is the right of every child to have access to his or her fundamental rights”
“Establishing a child welfare ministry will make us believe that the authorities really care for us and it’s not just the mere word saying we care for children,” she added.
The UN Agency Unicef report says that approximately 300 million children around the world between the ages two and four are subject to physical punishment, adding that violence against children knows no boundaries as it continues to exist in homes, schools and other places.