20 NOVEMBER, INTERNATIONAL CHILD DAY COMMEMORATION
On November 20, each year, recognized as Child Day worldwide, the international community marks issues concerning children. Among other things that come into discussion is protection of children, their rights to education and decent health care, son preference as well as violence against girl children.
The challenges that children encounter are countless. They are denied their rights to education and health care; they are exploited in labor markets and they are recruited as child soldiers. Somalia where there has been no effective central government for more than two decades, children are everywhere: on the streets, markets, bars and others. They live in appalling conditions with many of them developing the habit of drug addiction; at night they go to sleep on street sides where they transgress each other with the older bullying the younger. Most of the street children are those who lost their parents in the war; others are parentless because their parents are separated.
Children do not have any organization whether governmental or international that stood up for their rights apart from some NGOs that mainly advocate their rights through the media or mass campaigns to enlighten the general public on the plight of the children so that abuse against them can be minimized. OSPAD, being one of these organizations annually commemorate the International Child Day by carrying out activities meant to turn all stakeholders be they the government, child protection agencies, the Somali business community and the international community as a whole to the plight of the Somali children and how their ordeals could be minimized.
This year, 2012, OSPAD implemented a set of mainly awareness activities in commemoration of 20 November:
- OSPAD organized school children gatherings where speeches were delivered to more than 500 students and participants from the public for the commemoration of the International Child Day (20 November 2012) sharing with them the importance of this day. This gathering took place in Macmuur of waberi district and Hoyga Xamar secondary and primary schools in Hodan district of Banadir region.
- On the other hand OSPAD in collaboration with Shabelle IDP Camp elders conducted a big gathering with the families who were residing in that IDP Camp and shared with them relevant inputs regarding the rights of every child and responsibility of every care taker at family level, community level and national level of the children from the day of he/she is born up to maturity and the importance of the internal child day (20 November, 2012)
- OSPAD prepared and issued more than 300 posters and placards all bearing child protection messages such as “child right to education and health care is god-given and no one can take it away”, “every child was born free and has to live free”, “girls have the same rights as those of boys”, “No to son preference”, “please father and mother, your daughter is as valuable as your son” and other similar awareness messages. The posters were distributed to school and university students in Mogadishu as well as to IDPs and host communities in the city.
In the commemoration activities, all those who were in attendance were urged to actively contribute to the prevention of abuses against the children and protection of their rights.
- Commemoration of international child day on 20 November 2012 has gone a long way in shedding light on the plight of the Somali children especially the street children and orphans
- Relevant day for child rights promotional mechanisms through awareness education
- Programs related to child rights promotion should be continued and all doors should be knocked to awake stakeholders to improve the living situation of children
- Discussions, forums, media programs are necessary to use as awareness building channels or tools.
- 20 November every year should be designated as a day of reckoning as far as child rights and protection is concerned by which time planned activities are revisited to see what went well or wrong with regards child rights protection