Kid's Corner

Barriers affecting children’s rights

According to the State of the World’s Children 2015 report by UNICEF, the world is changing rapidly. Where there were around five billion people in 1990, by 2050 there will be nearly 10 billion – more than 2.6 billion of them younger than 18.
Many children born today will enjoy vast opportunities unavailable 25 years ago. But not all will have an equal chance to grow up healthy, educated and able to fulfill their potential and become fully participating citizens, as envisioned in the convention on the rights of the child.
Twenty-five years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Since then, millions of children have benefited from the progress.
When governments, their international partners, businesses and communities have matched their obligations under the convention with money and energy, they have saved and improved the lives of hundreds of millions of children.
While the magnitude of progress has been profound in key areas – child survival, education, access to clean water – too many children still confront the future with their needs unaddressed and their rights unrealised.
Many of Zambia’s children need protection from the risk and harm that threatens their rights and well-being. Exposure to poverty and deprivation is widespread, whilst many children are also exposed to violence, abuse and exploitation.
According to a UNICEF report on child protection, Zambia’s birth registration currently stands at 10 percent of all births, failing to meet with the requirement of the CRC which stipulates the right of every child to be given an identity at birth, so that his or her origins nationality are secured and to help safeguard numerous human rights including the right to inheritance.
Children in Zambia are at greater risk of social exclusion and exploitation than ever before, Largely due to poverty.
Poverty is widespread, with 64 percent of the total population living below the poverty line, rising to 80 percent in rural areas.
This however affects children as parents cannot pay for education and health services. Disability is also one of the problems affecting children disproportionately as disabled children are discriminated and are considered unproductive in the national development.
The effect of poverty is most often interrelated so that one problem hardly ever occurs alone.
For instance, bad sanitation makes it easier to spread around diseases.
Chief Chitimukulu Mwinelubemba Kanyama Manga II said in interview during the SADC traditional leaders conference that poverty is currently one of the barriers affecting children in Zambia, especially in rural areas.
Too many children remain excluded from the progress of the past 25 years.
The cost of these inequalities is paid most immediately and most tragically by children themselves. But the long-term impact affects generations to come, undermining the strength of their societies.
So addressing these inequities and reducing disparities is not only the right thing to do, honoring the spirit of the convention on the rights of the child, and it is also the strategic thing to do, yielding practical gains.
The author is a member of the Children’s News Agency, Lusaka Bureau.

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