By Watuwa Timbiti
Rights activists have called for the prioritization of children’s plight ahead of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) discussion.
The executive director, Uganda Child Rights NGO Network, Stella Ayo, wants Government to prioritise the issue of child protection.
Particularly for Uganda, she said it’s a matter of urgency because children constitute the biggest demographic of Uganda’s population considering the increased rate of child abuse in Uganda.
“Child protection should be a priority in the national and global development agenda because about 56% of the population is under 18 years. We recently established a child protection helpline and every day over 80% of the calls are related to violence inflicted to children,” she said.
She was however, optimistic that that with minister Sam Kutesa’s ascendancy to the presidency of the UN Assembly, “our concerns as forwarded during the consultations on the post 2015 agenda will be given space. Children are the voiceless of our society and yet they are the very essence and bedrock of society.”
Timothy Opobo, the director Afri Child and the child protection manager of Child Fund said much as government has made progress in other sectors such as health and increased enrolment in school, such progress is in vain if child protection is not emphasised.
“There is increased teenage pregnancy and increased school dropouts due to rape, defilement and torture. Look at children with disability, who is helping them access education?” he asked.
He said noted that in order to realize sustainable development, Government and other international stakeholders should consider investing in the biggest demographic (19 million) of Uganda’s population.
“But you go to the gender ministry which is responsible for children and see how much of their budget is allocated to children, it is less than 1%, this is not proper,” Opobo said.
Speaking at the same conference, James Kintu of World Vision said children’s issues need to be put at the centre of the national and international development agenda.
“There are 17 goals to form the basis of the negotiation in September, but children issues are not clearly pronounced in these goals,” he noted.