Thirty years ago, world leaders made a historic commitment to the world's children by adopting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child - an international agreement on childhood. It's become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history and has helped transform children's lives around the world. However, not every child gets to enjoy a full childhood. Still, too many childhoods are cut short.
This UN human rights treaty outlining the distinct rights of the children is the first legally binding code of child rights in history.
The Convention explains who children are, all their rights, and the responsibilities of governments. All the rights are connected, they are all equally important and they cannot be taken away from children.
At yesterday's press conference convened by the UNICEF country office to mark the event, the UNICEF country rep, Ms. Sandra Lattouf, said the former president, late Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara signed the instrument of ratification 3rd August 1990 and President Adama Barrow renewed the pledge on 25 September 2019 at the UN General Assembly.
30 years after ratifying the Convention, The Gambia has achieved a lot when it comes empowerment of children, especially in terms of access to basic social services, including access to improved water source of which about 85% of the population have access, and free reproductive and child health care.
Most children are now immunized from diseases such as meningitis, polio and measles, with a significant percentage of children vaccinated against measles before their first birthday.
Findings from the national Demographic Household Survey (DHS) 2013, for instance, shows a decline of infant mortality and under-five mortality from 81 and 109 per 1000 deaths (MICS 2010) to 34 and 54 per 1000 deaths respectively.
Protection for all children from violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect is a major priority for the country. With the signing of both Optional Protocols to the Convention 2000 and subsequent ratifications of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography later in the same year, much has been achieved in-country.
The creation of the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare and the Children's National Assembly of the Gambia brings hope for children of this country; more importantly children are finding their voice against violations and standing up for their rights.
It is up to our generation to demand that leaders from government, business and communities fulfill their commitments and take action for child rights now, once and for all. They must commit to making sure every child, has every right.
We must always put at the back of our minds that children everywhere dream of a better future!
"Convention on the Rights of the Child, Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989, entry into force 2 September 1990, in accordance with article 49 ."