Political parties have been challenged to include children’s issues in their manifestos for 2019 general elections.
The chairperson of Children’s Forum, Cantona Bolokang made the call during a dialogue session held at Ave Maria Pastoral Centre on Saturday as part of the commemoration of the Convention on the rights of a child.
Bolokang said political parties should drive child participation and involvement in policy making especially on issues affecting children. He said children have been left behind in formulation of laws and policies, as such many have not benefited from government programmes, which are meant to uplift their lives.
He said children are entitled to the freedom to express opinions and to have a say in matters affecting their social, economic, religious, cultural and political life. He said this prepares them for an active role in the society when they grow up. He further stated that children need protection from all forms of abuse, neglect, exploitation and cruelty. UNICEF advocacy champion Peter Siele said political parties should lead in advocacy on the rights and protection of children. He said political leaders should speak about children’s issues without fear or
Political parties should have a topic on childrenís issues on their agendas when they address campaign rallies or congresses. Children are abused everyday. They are molested. We need to talk about these issues at political parties to initiate change, Siele said.
Meanwhile, Matthews Bothman who represented the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) said while challenges remained, his party has done well in the past to recognise the inclusion of children policy making. However, Bothman said children should understand that rights come with responsibility. He said children should not just look somewhere else for solutions, but should create solutions for themselves.
“The BDP is committed to ensure children are educated and protected, but the responsibility lies with the children,” said Bothman. Botswana National Front (BNF) member, Mpho Kgomotso said the party has always included children’s issues in their manifestos. Kgomotso said BNF has always advocated for the use of mother tongue in schools, which would improve children’s academic performance.