WINDHOEK – Ninety-eight children from the 14 political regions of the country are gathering in Windhoek to attend the Fifth Children’s Parliament.
The session, which started last Friday, ends this Friday.
Hosted by the Parliament of Namibia in partnership with UNICEF, the Children’s Parliament aims to promote awareness of children’s rights and strengthen children’s participation in the legislative process and policy development.
This year’s session, which is held under the theme “Engaging Young People in the Legislative Process”, takes place at a time when the world, including Namibia, is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The CRC is the most ratified convention in the world and Namibia was among the first African countries to ratify it – on 28 September 1990, six months after the country gained its independence.
Speaking about the week-long event, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Peter Katjavivi, said this year’s Children’s Parliament session is a result of many years of re-evaluation and engagement with their partner, UNICEF, on how to not only build on the excellent aims and objectives of the original concept of the Children’s Parliament, but also to ensure the meaningful participation of all children, especially those that are normally excluded.
Apart from expression and the ability to engage in meaningful debate, the children were selected to ensure fair gender representation, as well as the inclusion of learners with disabilities and those from marginalised communities.
Experts have been invited to present on various fields of interest to the learners. Among them is Edward Ndopu, a world-renowned and South Africa-based Namibian social activist, who will engage the children in a question-and-answer session around the issues of children with disabilities.
Ndopu has been appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General as a Goodwill Ambassador on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He has also served as an advisor to the World Economic Forum, United Nations Women, and Amnesty International. Plans are also afoot to enable him to deliver a televised address from Space to the UN on the importance of the SDGs.
“Too often, children with disabilities are defined and judged by what they lack rather than what they have. Their exclusion and invisibility serve to render them uniquely vulnerable, denying them respect for their dignity, their individuality, even their right to life itself,” said the UNICEF Representative,” Rachel Odede. “Ndopu is a living testimony of what happens when we remove the barriers that serve to exclude and marginalise persons with disabilities, and to build inclusive societies, in which children with disabilities are enabled to realise their civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights,” reiterated Odede.
Members of the Children’s Parliament will be able to share ideas, discuss issues affecting them in their respective regions, and gain a deeper understanding of the tools at their disposal to engage decision makers and advocate for the needs of all children, especially the most vulnerable children and their families.
The Children’s Parliament in Namibia is one of the formalised and critical child participation structures in Namibia. It was born from the African Children’s Parliamentary Union Initiative (ACPUI) which holds that Children’s Parliaments give young people a way to “learn by doing”.
The Namibian Children’s Parliament aims to advise governmental agencies responsible for law-making on policies that would improve the rights and welfare of children and young people. The First Session of the Children’s Parliament took place in May 2007.
2019-08-19 07:17:36 | 6 months ago