African Union Agenda 2040: An Africa fit for Children
PRESENTATION BY GRACE OSAKUE CO-FOUNDER OF GIRLS’ POWER INITIATIVE (GPI) AND CHAIRPERSON GPI EXECUTIVE BOARD ON THE OCCASION OF GPI EDO STATE 27TH ANNIVERSARY AND 2020 / 2021 GRADUATION AND PUBLIC LECTURE HELD IN GPI HALL BENIN CITY ON SATURDAY 28TH AUGUST 2021
I am truly honoured to be in your midst to present this address on this occasion of GPI’s 27th Anniversary and Graduation ceremony for her 2020 and 2021 graduands. My invitation showed that this was also a Parents Daughter’s Forum of some sort and an occasion for marking the 2021 International Day of Action for Women’s Health which is observed annually on May 28th (since 1987).
That I am speaking also on the theme for 2021 Day of the African Child that marked on June 16th yearly does not mean that I do not consider women’s health important but I took the liberty of assessing who the majority of my audience would be and recognition of the fact that a continent fit for Children is also one that would make women happier and healthier.
International Day for Action on Women’s Health
Be that as it may, this year, the focus of May 28th was to raise awareness on the inequalities around the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to speak about them and address them. Like many other things, women have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 as a result of their caregiving roles both in the home and larger community and the increased sexual violence they suffered as a result of lockdowns that limited movement, increased poverty, and made women outlets for the release of unhealthy tensions by men. We saw many more rapes of all ages of women and physical violence from male intimate partners than previously. The focus of 2021 May 28th activities was, therefore, to make the world aware of this worsened social and gender inequalities and violence, analyze its causes, and call for more efforts to address the age-long inequalities between the sexes that led to this disproportional effects of COVID-19 and its measures on women, their rights to life, health, bodily autonomy, equality, non-discrimination and freedom from violence. I hope everyone here would make more effort to reduce these inequalities hereafter.
The Day of the African Child
The day of the African Child was instituted in 1991 by the African Union and is celebrated on June 16th annually to commemorate the hundreds of children killed and thousands more injured in Soweto South Africa on that day in 1976 when children came out to protest for their right to education. This year, the call was for more to be done to actualize laws and policies that are meant to protect children. The African Union Agenda 2040 enunciated since 2015 was the primary focus. I here reproduce excerpts from the AU document for our education.
African Union Agenda 2040: An Africa Fit for Children
Background to the Agenda Africa is set on a course towards a different and better Africa. The vision that inspires this course is captured in the African Union (AU)’s Agenda 2063. Because the ideas in Agenda 2063 will not be achieved overnight, young people – and children, in particular – have to be the drivers of Africa’s renaissance. Securing future progress, peaceful co-existence and welfare lies in their hands. In order to allow them to take charge of Africa’s future, their full potential has to be unlocked by fully protecting and realising their rights.
Agenda 2063 lists the following ‘aspirations’ for the Africa ‘we want’ :
- → a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development;
- → an integrated continent, politically united, based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance;
- → an Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law; ● a peaceful and secure Africa;
- → an Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics
- → an Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children;
Africa as a strong, united, resilient, and influential global player and partner.
Africa’s Agenda for Children: Fostering an Africa Fit for Children elaborates on the vision of Agenda 2063 in respect of children. In doing so, this Agenda takes cognisance of the elucidation in Agenda 2063 (paragraph 53) that ‘African children shall be empowered through the full implementation of the African Charter on the Rights of the Child. By nurturing and nourishing its children, the present generation of Africans will promote the growth of the continent and secure its future. By taking stock and prioritising future action, this document develops Africa’s agenda for children for the coming 25 years [2015-2040] based on the lessons learnt from the past 25 years [1990-2015].
By 2040, the rights of Africa’s children should be firmly protected, with full effect being given to the priorities in this Agenda. This is the Africa we aspire to. This Agenda is informed by and builds upon numerous existing legal and policy frameworks, among which the following are the most salient:
- ◊ the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child;
- ◊ the AU Commission (Department of Political Affairs) Human Rights Strategy for Africa;
- ◊ the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child Strategic Plan (2015-2019);
- ◊ the Abuja Declaration and Plan of Action on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious Diseases (2001);
- ◊ the Africa Fit for Children Declaration and Plan of Action (2001);
- ◊ the Call for Accelerated Action on the Implementation of the Plan of Action towards an Africa Fit for Children (2008-2012);
- ◊ the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework to Assess Progress towards Africa Fit for Children (Department of Social Affairs);
- ◊ the African Union’s Social Policy Framework for Africa (2008);
- ◊ Concluding Observations of the African Children’s Rights Committee;
- ◊ General Comments of the African Children’s Committee;
- ◊ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs);
- ◊ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
- ◊ African Child Policy Forum, The Africa Report on Children’s Wellbeing (2013);
- ◊ UNICEF The State of the World’s Children (2015); and
- ◊ AU Department of Social Affairs African Health Strategy 2016-2030.
The Agenda sets out ten aspirations to be achieved by 2040, in five implementation phases [that are 2020, 2025, 2030, 2035 and 2040].
State Parties are expected to align their national implementation plan with their commitments and obligations under Agenda 2063, the Sustainable Developments Goals, and other international treaties
- ♣ Aspiration 1: The African Children’s Charter, as supervised by the African Children’s Committee, provides an effective continental framework for advancing children’s rights.
- ♣ Aspiration 2: An effective child-friendly national legislative, policy, and institutional framework is in place in all Member States.
- ♣ Aspiration 3: Every child’s birth and other vital statistics are registered.
- ♣ Aspiration 4: Every child survives and has a healthy childhood.
- ♣ Aspiration 5: Every child grows up well-nourished and with access to the basic necessities of life.
- ♣ Aspiration 6: Every child benefits fully from quality education.
- ♣ Aspiration 7: Every child is protected against violence, exploitation, neglect, and abuse.
- ♣ Aspiration 8: Children benefit from a child-sensitive criminal justice system.
- ♣ Aspiration 9: Every child is free from the impact of armed conflicts and other disasters or emergency situations.
- ♣ Aspiration 10: African children’s views matter.
Now you all know that in an effort to achieve the 2063 goals for Africa as articulated by the African Union, Agenda 2040 has been set up since 2015 to advance the rights of children in Africa. Raise awareness about it, push for it to influence our local laws and policies, and monitor its implementation.
Children, these aspirations are about you. Know what they are and demand them so that our country and continent will be a better place.