Tuesday, 02 November 2010 06:12

TANZANIA: Activists Agitate Children's Rights


Child rights activists here are campaigning against leaders who ignore interests of children, who constitute about 60 per cent of the country's population.

"The over 20 million army of youngsters in Tanzania is bulldozed by the elderly few when it comes to polls.

"And all politicians vying for various positions in the country have been ignoring children issues and concerns during their campaigns," said Mr Steven Ndossi, the head of communications department at the MS-Training Centre for Developmental Cooperation here.

Mr Ndossi who heads the Child Rights Advocacy Network in Tanzania said many local politicians were not aware of the UN Child Rights Convention.

"The closest they come to address children issues is when they talk about education policies of their party manifestos.

"In Tanzania, children affairs are bundled together with gender issues and the latter seems to be the dominating factor," Mr Ndossi said.

In order to give children adequate representation therefore, the activist suggested lowering the voting age in future polls.

Dr Awich Pollar, the Vice-Chairman of UN Child Rights Convention, said though the article one of UN-CRC stipulates that a child should be anybody below 18, it was still flexible and each country can lower that down to 16 to enable more young voters.

Mr Benedict Missani who is the Senior Community Development Officer, in Charge of Early Childhood Department admitted that many politicians remain ignorant of children issues as well as the UN child rights convention but explained that the government has policies that are meant to execute the convention.

Mr Missani added that with the establishment of the Children Council, the youngsters now have a platform to express their views, concerns and offer contribution to the country's governance.

"With such a youth council, the under 18 population can be adequately represented," he said.

Source: Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

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