Messages to Government from the Efeng Bacha Members
By Dr Stanley Maphosa
The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (the Fund) is presenting a message of support as part of the closing ceremony for the 2022 Child Protection Week (CPW) that is being held on the 05 June 2022 in King Cetshwayo District Kwa-Zulu Natal, under the theme “Let us All Protect children during COVID-19 and Beyond. The closing ceremony is held in Nhlabane, a rural community outside Richard’s Bay. The focus of Child Protection Week this year from the government point of view was targeting provinces and district with the highest number of children who were pregnant. The official opening ceremony for this campaign week was held in in OR Tambo District, Ingquza Hill, Lusikisiki Eastern Cape on the 29 May 2022. Prior to the opening and closing ceremony, roundtable discussions were held at the OR Tambo District and Zululand District to assess level of interventions and programmes that are currently being provided by various stakeholders who are both government and non-government organisations to address teenage pregnancy.
The Statistics South Africa report, recorded that 34 587 teenagers gave birth in 2020. This is a cause for concern for the Fund, its partners and likeminded organisations in South Africa. This requires a concerted effort by all key stakeholders in government and non-government sector including children, parents, caregivers, families and community at large to address the issues of teenage pregnancies. The unacceptably high levels of teenage pregnancy in South Africa manifests as the infringement on the rights of the girl child as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and other legislations, policies and guidelines. In addition to that, teenage pregnancies pose health risks for the mothers, their babies, their families as well as the communities. Teenage mothers are more susceptible to medical, social and emotional problems, in comparison to their adult mothers counterparts. The high rates of teen pregnancy also affect the communities and society's welfare as they increase the rate of school dropout, decrease graduation rates, and increase unemployment rate. The prevention programmes addressing the problem of teenage pregnancies would most amongst others, contribute to promotion and protection of the rights of the girl child, ensuring gender equity, reduce school dropout and curb the poverty cycle.
During the Child Protection Week commemoration the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund joined the National Department of Social Development and the Provincial Department of Social Development in Kwa Zulu Natal and Eastern Cape, the University of Zululand, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, Implementing Partners in the entire nine province and other strategic partners.
The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (the Fund) is an advocacy development agency and a leading champion for the general well-being of children, founded in 1995 by the former statesman Mr. Nelson Mandela. The Fund strives to change the way society treats its children and youth. This long-term vision captures the central role society plays in shaping children’s lives.
NMCF’s Child Safety and Protection Programme aims to create protective environments that prevent and respond to abuse, neglect, and violence against children in households, and schools, and other spaces, including digital, where they live, learn and play. Furthermore, the Programmes also seeks to improve access to rights and safe, protective care for children (all persons under the age of 18) in South Africa.
Despite the comprehensive legislative framework promoting children’s rights and aiming to prevent child abuse and neglect, recently reported increases in child murders, attempted murders, and kidnappings, coupled with poverty-induced vulnerabilities, indicate that child safety and protection programming is critical to ENSURING South Africa’s children develop and thrive.
As a country South Africa commemorates, National Child Protection Week annually, to raise awareness of the rights of children as articulated in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and Children’s Act (Act No. 38 of 2005). This year the week timelines are from 29th May to 05th June 2022.
The current NMCF Strategic Objectives:
SO1: Empower families and communities to adequately care (healthcare, safety, nutrition, education, economic position, basic services) for their children and youth.
SO2: Create platforms to amplify the voices of children and youths
SO3: Address and influence government shortfalls in relation to children and youth (advocacy and lobbying
SO4: Create a collaborative environment to amplify the impact of NMCF on children and youth through strategic partnerships
Children’s Sessions at The Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital
Engaging with the children aligns with strategic objective – Create platforms to amplify the voices of children and youths. The Child Safety and Protection Unit is convening sessions with children, to be able to meaningfully take part and express their perspectives on being safe and protected. These insights will inform our interventions, and strengthen future communication being more representative of children’s views and experiences. The children who are also patients of NMCH represent as fairly under-represented, often excluded sub-population of children; those living with and managing serious illness.
23By the Child Safety & Protection team
“Our Children are Our Greatest Treasure they are Our Future. Those who Abuse Them Tear at the Fabric of Our Society and Weaken our Nation”. - Nelson Mandela
The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (the Fund) strives to Change the Way Society Treats its Children and Youth. The Fund’s mission is to be an African Rights Based Movement recognising the dignity and wellbeing of children. The National Child Protection Week is observed in the country to raise awareness of the rights of children as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and articulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Fund’s commitment to promoting safe environments for children, families and communities is a responsibility mandated by the founder Mr Mandela. He believed that the Fund can help build a society where children can be free from abuse, neglect, exploitation and any form of violence. To the Fund, Child Protection Week goes beyond the days of observation. It is the day to day efforts to create protective environments that prevent and respond to abuse, neglect and violence against children in households, schools and other spaces where they play, live and learn. In order to enable all children from birth 0 to 23 the ability to be safe, develop and thrive in their livelihoods.
Despite the efforts, commitments and promises made through the international, regional and domestic instruments. Children continue to suffer violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation every day, making them the most vulnerable members of our society. It is in the collaborations, influence, knowledge and attitudes to do better. To enable those responsible, communities and families to have better capacity of care for the well-being of children.
It is against this backdrop that the Fund calls upon all civil society organisations, governments, businesses, parents, and duty bearers to fulfil children’s rights including those to protection. The call for protection depends on a global movement in which everybody understands and respects their duties to children, but also acts upon them to fulfil this reality.
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