President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera has called on all Malawians to ensure that children in the country are fully protected from all types of abuse which they face in the society.

Chakwera made the call on Wednesday in Mangochi where he participated in this year’s International Day of the African Child commemoration and officially launched Early Childhood Development Advocacy Campaign.

The president said if the country is to achieve the Agenda 2040, which aims at fostering an Africa fit for children, then it has to start from the homes where the children live.

“If we want Africa fit for the child by 2040, then we first need to make every home fit for the child,” Chakwera said, adding: “When our homes are safe and fit for the child, our villages, schools, areas, districts and the whole country will be fit for the child.”

The President said, as a country, all policies, laws and legal instruments should revolve around the child as a priority before they focus on adults. He said the latter are the first to break the very laws that they make.

He observed that most of the abuses that children undergo are perpetrated in homes by people who are supposed to protect the child.

Chakwera also strongly condemned the ‘criminal’ tendency that some people have of shielding perpetrators of child and sexual abuses.

“We need to hold hands in exposing perpetrators of child abuse; this tendency of shielding them must stop if we are to ensure total protection and safety for our children,” said the President.

Turning to the commemoration, Chakwera addressed African children through a written poetic letter in which he adorned them as ‘God’s special creation’ that is priceless and worthy beyond all the minerals and any other wealth in the world.

He assured the children that government, together with its development partners, will strive to ensure that all instruments that promote the safety and rights of children are in place and adhered to.

The children’s representative at the commemoration function, Promise Macheso, hailed President Chakwera for government’s efforts in fulfilling some of the aspirations which guide the Agenda 2040.

However, Macheso said children in the country continue to face challenges such as inadequate learning and teaching materials; inadequate inclusive learning; forced marriages; barriers to secondary and tertiary education and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Macheso, therefore, asked government to look into all the challenges and also ensure that parents who force their children into marriage face the law.

“If we are to achieve an Africa Fit for Children, we, the children must be put at the centre of development. Our views and opinions must be recognized and taken into account,” said Macheso.

The day’s commemoration was marked with activities by the sizeable number of children drawn from across the country and a live performance by Yoneco Band in keeping with COVID-19 preventative protocols.

Other notable figures present during the event included former President Dr. Joyce Banda, Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati and UNICEF Representative, Rudolf Schwenk.

The theme for this year’s commemoration of the Day of the African Child is: ‘30 years after the adoption of the charter: accelerate the implementation of the Agenda 2040 for an Africa Fit for Children.’

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