ON this Day of the African Child, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) calls upon the public to reflect on improving the welfare of all African children.
ZLHR urges the Zimbabwean authorities to adopt and implement robust measures that are designed to eradicate all harmful practices affecting children. ZLHR also urges the authorities to comply with their constitutional obligation to improve the welfare of all children in Zimbabwe and ensure equal access to education opportunities for girls and boys.
The Day of the African Child is commemorated annually on 16 June in order to highlight the immense challenges that are faced by children across the African continent. It is also an opportunity for the world to collaborate towards the eradication of these challenges. The Day of the African Child is also an opportunity for the world to pay tribute to the South African children who were murdered on 16 June 1971 in Soweto, while they were protesting for better education and the right to be taught in their native languages.
The theme for the Day of the African Child in 2022 is “Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy & Practice since 2013”. The theme calls upon everyone to reflect on the policies and measures that have been adopted, since 2013, in order to eliminate all harmful practices that affect African children. These harmful practices include social and cultural practices, such as child marriages and female genital mutilation (FGM) that infringe the rights of children. The harmful practices have an adverse impact on the dignity, health, well-being and development of African children. Ultimately, these practices prevent children from enjoying their human rights, which are entrenched in various international treaties such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
In commemoration of Day of the African Child, we must all evaluate the effectiveness of the measures and policies that have been adopted by African states in order to eradicate all harmful social and cultural practices that violate the rights of African children. The theme also invites the public to reflect on further measures and policies that can be adopted to effectively eradicate all harmful practices affecting African children.
In Zimbabwe, children are still vulnerable to harmful social and cultural practices. In particular, girls continue to be victims of child marriages. In recent years, there has been an alarming spike in the number of child marriages that have taken place in the country. Child marriages infringe on the human rights of girls and their ability to advance their education. ZLHR calls upon the authorities to adopt urgent measures that are designed to eliminate the harmful practice of child marriages.
The Zimbabwean authorities have a constitutional obligation to promote the best interests of children, according to the Constitution of Zimbabwe. In particular, section 19(1) of the Constitution states that government must ensure that the best interests of children are paramount in matters that concern children. Government must also adopt reasonable policies and measures that are designed to ensure shelter, basic nutrition, health care, social services and appropriate education for all children in Zimbabwe, according to section 19(2) of the Constitution.
The Constitution also obliges the State to increase access to education for all children. The State’s obligation to provide basic State-funded education and higher education, through reasonable legislative and other measures, is also entrenched in section 75 of the Constitution. ZLHR calls upon the State to comply with its constitutional obligations on this International Day of the African Child.
On this Day of the African Child, ZLHR calls upon:
- the public to reflect upon the need to improve the welfare of all African children;
- the Zimbabwean authorities to urgently adopt robust measures that are aimed at eradicating all harmful practices affecting children in the country,
- the authorities to fulfil their constitutional obligation of improving the welfare of all children in Zimbabwe;
- the authorities to comply with the constitutional obligation of ensuring equal access to educational opportunities between girls and boys.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
No. 103 Sam Nujoma Street, Harare, Zimbabwe
Phone: (+263 8677005347, +263 242 764085/705370/708118
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