By Edwin Muhumuza
Six of Uganda’s leading child rights organizations on Tuesday launched a joint operation dubbed “Joining Forces” aimed at fast tracking progress on ending violence against children.
Child Fund, Plan International, Save the Children, SOS Childrens’ villages, Terre des Hommes and World Vision have come together to collaborate on initiatives to create child-led solutions through empowering children to understand how to tackle challenges within their communities .
Brechtje Van Lith ,Country Director, Save The Children said, ‘We really want to make sure that children s’ voices are being heard. The national child participation strategy is so important in that respect. It really acknowledges that children should be involved in the mechanisms of both designing and implementing policies.’
The national survey released this year by the ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development with support from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) revealed shocking statistics, indicating that most children have experienced physical violence and more than 90% experienced multiple incidents. Also that violence is wide spread in schools.
‘As the national survey was released, we once more see how critical issues are of ending violence. We felt that this was a good moment to give it an extra push, to give it more attention and be more on top of these stake holders to play their part’. Brechtje added.
Olive Lumonya, National Director of the SOS Children Villages notes that these kinds of huge numbers mean a call to action. This would entail working with all existing local government systems and structures to create awareness and more impact.
Linnet Awor, Program Manager, Terres de Hommes said ‘we are one of the six international organizations promoting child protection in Uganda. We are doing this even globally at international level. We decided to join forces at national level.’
This rare event seemingly goes to tell the extent of violence against children and the urgency that it requires.
‘We are in-putting into the national legal processes whereby we are contributing towards the development of the human sacrifice bill,the childrens act…right now we are doing a countrywide assessment on children rights and we will be working with government especially in regard to the upcoming reporting that countries do on child rights,’Awor reveals.
In 2017,the CEO’s of the worlds six leading child-focused NGOs met and decided to accelerate progress on achieving sustainable Development Goals for children. Focusing on tow key projects;(i)-ending violence against children-a national-level effort in five pilot countries, including Uganda to increase the programme impact and contribute to SDG 16. In Uganda they focused on ending violence against children in schools.(ii)-Child Rights Now!;a national and international advocacy push in up to 20 countries to renew political commitment to children’s rights through implementation of the SDG’s and support for the UN Convention on the rights of the child.
The Joining Forces coalition is piloting an initiative called Plan Z, which creates child-led solutions to help end violence against children. Through this process children in the Plan Z pilot identified the issue of child kidnap for ritual purposes, ransom and murder as one of the worst abuses against children.