Children’s Rights and Welfare First

Children’s Rights and Welfare First

This is 18 year old Eunice from the rural district of Nkeyema district which has limited number of services. Eunice is a member of the child rights clubs formed by Caritas Zambia. As a chairperson of the club since 2018, she led a number of sensitization programs in schools and communities on Child abuse, Sexual abuse, child labour, violence against children, effects of corporal punishment in schools, gender based violence, early marriages and defilement among others. Unlike many children in her district, Eunice was privileged to have the opportunity to voice out on issues affecting Children in her community. Beyond the Caritas Zambia projects, she has participated in a number of online sessions on child reference groups organised by the United Nations (UN), covering topics on climate change and how it has affected children, women and girls around the world.

“I also had an opportunity to participate in children’s parliament in 2021 were we were asked to contribute to the 2022 budget as a way of involving children in decision making. I also had an opportunity to participate on the radio presentations on the day of an African child were we discussed the challenges that are faced by African Children”. She explains.

Through her interaction with Caritas from 2018, Eunice became aware of her rights and could now identify the abuses in her community. “A lot of the children who get pregnant are forced to marry the men responsible for their pregnancies, I used to think that was just a normal way of helping the children to avoid the shame of being laughed at, but now I realise it is a form of abuse “she said. Caritas Zambia through support from Save the children Zambia implemented the Action for the Protection of Children Project, aimed at empowering Civil Society actors, communities and children so that they influence government at national and local level to put in place structures and systems that protect children and strengthen accountability to deliver and invest in children’s rights. Through this project, Caritas Zambia targeted children in Nkeyema, Kalabo, Ngabwe, Mkushi, Sinazongwe, Siavonga and Lusaka districts, who are the main project target stakeholders.

The Project’s overall goal is that, Civil Society actors, communities and children influence government at National and local level to put in place structures and systems that protect children and strengthen accountability to deliver and invest in children’s rights. When this is achieved, it will help to support effective protection of children from all forms of abuse, violence and exploitation. “I have taken it upon myself to try and change the situation in my district, because I am now able to speak out on injustices, abuses and other bad vices against children” says Eunice.

Against this background, Eunice has launched a child led initiative dubbed “Children’s Rights and Welfare First”. The project, whose primary target is girls and boys below the age 18 years (in and out of school) specifically 5 to 18 years of age, from Kalale, Munkuye, Shimano, Nkeyema, Nalumino Mundia and Kanwanda Communities and Schools, is based on building the capacities of boys and girls to participate in decision making positions where children will be empowered and provided with opportunities, platforms and spaces to take action on matters that affect their rights and well-being. The project will be Child-Led. Children and young people will be empowered to take lead in decision making and supported to establish child led initiatives or clubs that will work with the Eunice and friends to advance the rights of children by ensuring their rights are protected, promoted, fulfilled and respected.

“I have great passion and interest in working with children in my district and this opportunity allows me to further this action and extend it to other children and youths within and even beyond my district” Eunice explains. In its initial stages, Caritas Zambia will provide technical support to the initiative, with support from Save the Children Zambia. The initiative will be anchored under Caritas Zambia support until the time when the initiative is fully strengthened to stand on, legally registered and independently operate with minimal support.

About Caritas Zambia

Caritas Zambia is a Catholic Organisation that is an integral structure of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB). The Conference of Bishops is a permanent grouping of Bishops of a given nation or territory that jointly exercises certain pastoral functions on behalf of the Christian faithful of their territory. This is done for the sake of effective evangelisation. To promote the principle of the common good which the Church offers humankind, especially through forms and programmes of the apostolate which are fittingly adapted to the circumstances of the time and place, is the role of Bishops.