June 16 is known as the Day of the African Child (DAC). On this day, the memories of all the students who were killed in the Soweto Uprising are honoured. The Soweto Uprising took place in 1976 when schoolchildren took to the streets to protest against inequality in the apartheid regime and demand better education. They were met with tear gas and bullets from the regime. The Day of the African Child symbolises the continued fight to ensure children’s rights are at the forefront of Africa’s development.
Every year there is a theme, last year the theme of DAC was “Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunities for children in Africa by 2030”. This year the theme “Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development” is working towards the 2030 Agenda. The theme promotes inclusivity and equality, specifically focusing on children who are not benefiting from Africa’s growth, working to help them in various aspects of life but specifically education.
Aidlink, with our Kenyan partner the Girl Child Network, celebrates and honours the Day of the African Child. Together, we work to promote the rights of all children, with a special focus on the rights of girls and children with disabilities. Our projects empower children and assists them in furthering their abilities to learn and to lead. Education is hugely important in preventing damaging cultural practices from occurring such as female genital mutilation and child marriage. 1 in 4 girls in Kenya are married before their 18th birthday, however by increasing female enrolment and completion of school, many girls are avoiding early marriage. They are also more likely to earn more after school and more likely to send their own daughters to school! Education changes the lives of future generations.
On Saturday we celebrate the Day of the African Child and promise to “Leave No Child Behind” by working to promote and ensure the rights of all children are respected and upheld, and by empowering today’s children to become tomorrow’s leaders, who will continue the fight for justice and equality.
I want every child born anywhere to delight in what life offersNuruddin Farah