By Caleb Kisabuli – Bungoma County
As we celebrate the day of the African child this year, so many things will be expected to be covered and touched on by different groups of people including lawmakers.
Even though there is little that local people know about this day, it is them that child issues affect a lot.
There needs to be civic education about this day and the expectations of the same, including sensitization on children rights and fundamental freedoms.
The theme of this year’s celebrations being “Conflicts and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all children’s rights”, Africa needs not only to celebrate the day but reflect on the steps the continent has taken to better a child’s life, examine the flops it has encountered and have a way forward to better the life of the African child.
I want to applaud the government of Kenya for making Female Genital Mutilation (FMG) illegal in the country. For many years, this vice has eaten the country, more so in marginalized communities. Apart from being unhealthy and putting the girl child in danger of contracting diseases such as HIV and AIDS, the practice was overtaken with time and had neither benefit nor place in the current world.
Several plans and organizations have come up to the support of the female child. For many years, the girl child was neglected and was denied basic rights such as education and freedom to choose; including the choice of their marriage partners.
Right now, the government of Kenya has ensured that laws are in place to protect children of both genders. The two-third gender representation rule is the one that needs to be reinforced in order to get a balanced society.
An African child must grow knowing their rights regardless of their gender in order to help them cope with the changing world trends on equity between men and women.
Strengthening the girl child and bringing her to equal levels with the male child, should not be seen as a way of suppressing the menfolk. Activists have come up complaining that the boy child is being compromised in this race. It should not be seen as such.
For a long time, our societies have held the notion that men were always stronger than women. This is not true. What should be advocated for is equal opportunity between the two genders and it should start as soon as possible through such days.
The African child has suffered collateral damage for actions of few egocentric individuals who do not think about their welfare but rather their stomachs.
To strengthen the African child, the first step that governments in this lovely continent should do is to put up quality schools and sufficient facilities that will help the society bring up an all-rounded child who knows that books is not a do or die thing, but a way driving them to maturity. As such, talent schools should be put up as not every child will excel in academics. This is what I am calling equal opportunity for all.
Measures should also be put in place to see to it that the children get quality and affordable; if not free medical care. This is another way of making sure that we build strong societies free of diseases that will hinder economy growth. Apart from medical care, civic education should also take place on eating habits and people should be educated on how to have a balanced diet to avoid some diseases that can be controlled naturally.
A child is a child and should not be viewed otherwise by any member of the society. Early pregnancies have slowed the rate of our education system as children drop out of school after being impregnated by a bodaboda rider or worse still, the same teacher that is supposed to instill knowledge in the head of this child.
Above all, we need to create a cohesive society, free from social vices that hinder the growth of the African child. With good legislation, I think we can overcome these challenges.