As Liberia joins countries around the world to commemorate the Day of the African Child today, June 16, 2022, the Minister of Gender, Children, and Social Protection reiterates here that violence against children and adolescents, especially girls, including rape, abuse, harassment and exploitation remain a daunting challenge in the country.
Minister Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr highlights here that Liberian children under 15 make up 42 percent of the country's population, while 63 percent are under 25.
"This statistic, in our honest quest to eliminate all forms of violence against children, gives the country a great task to protect its young people from harm while giving them the space and opportunity to develop and lead the country forward", the Gender Minister says in a Pre-Day of the African Child Statement released here on Wednesday, June 15, 2022.
She says this year's Day of the African Child is being observed under the global theme, "Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy & Practice since 2013", while the national theme is "Creating a Space for Children to Speak Against Harmful Practices Affecting their Well-being."
She explains that the celebration of the Day of the African Child (DAC) arises from resolution No: CM/1290 of the Heads of States Summit of the then Organization of African Unity held in Abuja, Nigeria in June 1990.
During that summit, she says it was declared that the 16th of June must be celebrated as the Day of the African Child to commemorate the death of hundreds of school children, who were massacred in Soweto, South Africa, by the then Apartheid Regime in June 1976.
According to the Minister, the children protested against the inferior quality of their education and demanded their rights to be taught in their own language, leading to a protest that turned bloody.
Minister Saydee-Tarr notes that Liberia being a member of the then OAU that is now the African Union, also celebrates the day annually since the passing of the resolution.
She says programs are expected to be held in all fifteen counties of Liberia and a National program is scheduled in Montserrado County, where hundreds of children will converge to commemorate the day.
She also observes that this year's celebration is special because it marks Liberia's two hundred years of existence since its founding in 1822 by free slaves from the United States of America.
She says as part of activities marking the DAC, the National Children Representative Forum on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, at 11:AM converged at the Invincible Sports Park, Fish Market - Monrovia for a day-long sports festivities including bag race, egg race, running race, football and kickball games, respectively.
The celebrations climax today, Thursday, June 16, 2022, which is the official Day of the African Child. At 9:AM, Liberian children will parade from the Ministry of Health, Congo Town to the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex, Oldest Congo Town, Monrovia.
After the parade, the children will take over the program, which starts with a panel discussion on Harmful practices affecting children of Liberia. After the discussion, key line Ministers are expected to participate in a panel discussion on harmful practices affecting children from their perspective.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Justice, and Ministry of Information will participate in a panel discussion on progress on policy and practices since 2013.