Children representatives from eight selected African countries gathered here for a conference on Monday to express their pain and frustrations on situations around them that are inimical to their healthy growth.
The 2017 African Dialogue Conference was organized in Ghana’s capital Accra through a collaboration between the People’s Initiative Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to mark this year’s World Children’s Day.
The young participants who spoke to the world about “The Africa We Want” mentioned issues like hunger, conflict, Female Genital Mutilation, Child Neglect (FGM), lack of shelter, lack of adequate opportunities of education among others as some of the issues they wanted eradicated on the continent.
Fatoumatta Camara from The Gambia named FGM as the number one killer of the girl child in her country which the world must deal with.
“It is a deeply entrenched traditional practice and 76 percent of girls and women have undergone this practice. So it is something that is very prominent in The Gambia and something that almost all ethnic groups except one in the Gambia practice. So that can tell you how bad this practice is and how it is common in the Gambia,” she stated.
She urged the government to take a stronger action on FGM as the law introduced in 2015 is not effective.
“I want an Africa where a baby will not have to lose her life two days after her fist breath; above all I want an Africa where my baby sister would have survived and be part of this world,” she emphasized.
On his part, Élie Yedou from Cote d’Ivoire spoke about the need for good health, peace and food security in Africa.
Representing Ghana, Victoria Kweinorki Quaynor spoke passionately about child neglect which has become a major issue, not in Ghana alone but across the world.
“During my time of neglect I felt timid, I felt insecure, I felt strangulated and had no motivation to live for,” she stated,
Quaynor attributed the situation to irresponsible parentage and inadequate state support for children in case of parental dereliction.
Anne-Isabelle Leclercq Balde, Communication Specialist of the UNICEF West & Central Africa Regional office, said the platform was created in order to bring children together to state their case to the world.
“Today is World Children’s Day and the anniversary of the Convention of the Right of Children. One of the basic rights of children is to have a voice on issues that are affecting them,” she said, “these children are coming from eight African countries, I think they can talk better than anybody else about the Africa they really want.” Enditem