The calls were made on November 20, 2023, in Yaounde during the official celebration of World Children’s Day.
Esther Anaïs Bengono is a 7-year-old girl who dreams of a society without violence, child exploitation, and abuse. She depicts the world in colors and as a secure place for the well-being of children.
Through a beautiful poem, Esther Anaïs raised all the harmful practices that hamper children’s growth worldwide.
She said children are born to grow in a safe environment, they have the right to have a family, to be educated, to be cared for in case of sickness, and to have the right to life. Yet, as outlined in her poem, Esther Anaïs decries the current ills plaguing society in general and children in particular.
She denounced the numerous harmful practices to which children are exposed, even though, many children are entangled in wars, and crises and are unable to pursue their dreams.
The poem delivered by the 7-year-old champion was not only a call to action but also an advocacy towards the government in a bid to accentuate actions aimed at protecting children and promoting their rights in all spheres of life.
The celebration of World Children’s Day at the National Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Disabilities in Etoug-Ebe, Yaounde 6 was also an occasion to commune with children from orphanages and social centers.
Godwin Dinaye, a junior parliamentarian in the Yaounde II constituency outlined the fact that World Children’s Day celebrated every November 20 is an important date simply because it reminds us of how children are treated in society and it is a day aimed at reinforcing actions that will greatly impact on their education.
Several calls to action were highlighted by children who on behalf of their peers also decried the fact that many are still suffering from rejection, stigmatization, and discrimination.
Country Director of Plan International Cameroon, Mohamed Bah in his speech underscored the supportive contribution of Plan International all over the world since its creation.
“Today in more than 85 countries around the world and Cameroon for more than 26 years, Plan International continues to support all the players in the childhood protection chain and the government of Cameroon in its respective strategies to protect the rights of children…”
Talking to the media after the official celebration he added: “Plan International Cameroon is here to accompany the government, families and communities. We help them to identify the weak areas and the rights that are not respected. And once we identify those areas, we tailor our programs to ensure that these rights are made concrete because all the children whenever they are, have rights. So, we accompany everyone, we provide technical assistance to the government, and local communities and we also provide financial assistance whenever it is possible, we raise awareness of the need for each of us to be very active in making these rights complete for children in crises, children living with disabilities and those from very poor families…”
UNICEF’s Resident Representative, Mrs Perrault Nadine said the celebration of World Children’s Day is also geared towards reminding all stakeholders to leave no one behind.
“Through this celebration, we want to raise awareness about the fact that, in many things sometimes we forget children living with disabilities. We should not leave any child behind. Every child whatever their condition has the right to all the rights that were enshrined in the convention…” She said.
In her keynote address, Cameroon’s Minister of Social Affairs emphasized this year’s theme is: “For Every Child, Every Right”.
She also insisted on the fact that the day serves as a reminder to highlight all the rights of children which are most often trampled.
Social Affairs Minister said the day is dedicated to the sensitization of all actors who are involved in Childhood protection. Pauline Irene Nguene said the Ministry of Social Affairs has continuously fought for the respect of children’s rights in Cameroon.
She said: “We know that we have so many challenges, a lot has been done by the government but we think that we still have a lot of challenges to uplift. Knowing what is happening around us in the environment today, we think that this sensitization should go further, we have to intensify such actions so that the rights of children are respected. Children in general should have access to education, health, and life. At the level of the government, several incentives were undertaken, many have been realized so far and some are still to be concretized. This is the reason why we have put an accent on sensitization and together with all our partners we are going to accelerate this challenge which is ours.”
Let us recall that, World Children’s Day is celebrated on November 20 each year to promote international togetherness, and awareness among children worldwide, and to improve children’s welfare.
November 20th is an important date as it is the date in 1959 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Since 1990, World Children’s Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the Declaration and the Convention on Children’s Rights.