By Isam Ghanim, ChildFund Executive Vice President, Programs
As ChildFund prepares to celebrate the Day of the African Child on June 16, we recognize the sacrifice of the children who lost their lives in the uprising in Soweto, South Africa, in 1976. On that day, 10,000 students marched in protest of South Africa’s requirement that children be educated in English and Afrikaans rather than their native languages. Hundreds died and thousands were injured as security forces charged the peaceful demonstrators.
The Day of the African Child reminds us of a child’s right to use their voice to express aspirations, concerns and perspectives about their current situation and the future.
ChildFund applauds the African Union’s continued attention to children and encourage all governments and development circles to put children at the center of their policy and practice. Africa has made excellent strides to support the well-being of children, but significant effort is needed to sustain the gains and fill the gaps in access to health assistance, education and protection of children.
For more than 70 years, ChildFund has focused on the well-being of children. In cooperation with the ChildFund Alliance, we work in 59 countries and have succeeded in mobilizing billions of dollars in programs to support children. We see the celebration of the Day of the African Child as a chance to continue that support.
In collaboration with our partners and the African Union, ChildFund is bringing children from Angola, Kenya, The Gambia and Ethiopia to participate in events taking place June 14-16 in Addis Ababa. These children represent the millions of children and families in 11 countries receiving support from ChildFund in Africa. Their participation fills us with joy and reminds us of our responsibility to all children.
The theme of this year’s Day of the African Child—“The Rights of Children with Disabilities: The Duty to Protect, Respect, Promote and Fulfill”—is also an important focus for ChildFund. We have worked hard for many years to support environments conducive for children with disabilities. Our goal is to assist in all children’s healthy transition from infancy to childhood and beyond. ChildFund believes that being disabled cannot and shall not be a barrier to success in life, and we are committed to promoting, respecting and protecting children’s rights across Africa and the world at large.