Kenya

Secure children's present

Secure children's present

Most marginalised children, especially from the rural and poor communities, continue to lose out on formal education.

The theme for World Children’s Day 2021 celebrated on Saturday was “A better future for every child”. It was celebrated amid the Covid-19 global pandemic, which has affected the rights of every child, as have climate change, educational divide and mental health issues.

Getting justice is a near nightmare; our systems are so corrupt that the culprits of sexual assault, just like our politicians, avoid jail just by posting bail. Children are being defiled, molested, assaulted, harassed by their relatives, neighbours and strangers.

Children are lonely, helpless and still fear being separated from their loved ones. Most marginalised children, especially from the rural and poor communities, continue to lose out on formal education.

They still suffer economic exploitation, child labour, early and forced child marriage, child trafficking, teenage pregnancy, school drop-outs, female genital mutilation (FGM), dangerous internet sites and cyberbullying and commercial sex exploitation. Many are lured into unhealthy sexual relationships.

Solutions to children’s problems should be sought now. Promising to solve them at a later date does not hold water. Far too many have unique challenges.

Of late, children are voicong out their opinions and develop solutions to their challenges. We should give them an opportunity to decide how they wish to be represented, directly or indirectly, in decision-making processes and platforms.

Children are confident that they have what it takes to reach their potential. They need to be in the know and equally engaged in government-led processes on their issues. It’s more important than ever that the leaders listen to their ideas and demands.

Children are reimagining a better world. Education shapes their present and future. We should protect them from the negative effects of Covid-19. Equal distribution and access of essential services is vital. Full implementation of policies and laws like the Sexual Offences Act will help to protect children.

Mr Mwangi is a sexual and reproductive health and rights youth expert. @alvinmwangi254