The acting deputy director of community development in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Gomolemo Tselakgopo said her ministry realised the growing numbers of vulnerable children in Botswana.
Speaking at the ongoing Child Rights Coalition Meeting in Gaborone today, she explained that children were exposed to various vulnerabilities due to, among other things, poor parenting skills, alcoholism, violence, living in child-headed households.
“The National Situation Analysis on Orphans and Vulnerable Children (2008) identified 30.6% of children are vulnerable as a result of living in households where no one was gainfully employed. In the era we live in, both the boy and girl child are at equal risk of vulnerability; they are at equal risk for sexual abuse, engagement in transactional and intergenerational sex and many other factors,” she said.
She also explained that some cultural and traditional practices compound children’s vulnerability as they compromise the enjoyment of rights by the children, while in other spheres, children’s rights were misunderstood and perceived to be a threat to social harmony. Tselakgopo added that as child rights practitioners and advocates, they must therefore strive to ensure that all children were protected and their rights, specifically their rights to participate in matters that affect them, were protected.
She further explained that in an effort to strengthen child safeguarding and protection, the government made deliberate efforts to engage different sectors to participate, thus making children everybody’s business.
For his part, the national director of Save Our Souls (SOS), Motshwari Kitso called on local organisations offering child protection services to coordinate on building a platform
Kitso said the platform could help them discuss issues of child protection, address the government on children development issues, research on child issues and related issues. He said the meeting would help them introspect and come up with a structure where those organisations would discuss children’s issues openly. He called on the government to come up with structures that could work for all of them.
According to Margaret Mokgachane, the meeting was ideal as it brings different organisations that deal with children’s rights together under one roof. She explained that coordination had always been a challenge.
“Because of poor coordination, people were given the same service and therefore the aim to help underprivileged members of the society runs futile. It is therefore important for coordination to help identify their different needs. Let’s advocate for children’s rights in one voice. This will ensure credibility of our various organisations,” she said
She explained that some children’s organisations were closed down because they were parading children for their own benefit. She called on existing NGOs to help children in a dignified manner that would not expose their vulnerability and abuse their psychosocial wellbeing.
Organisations offering child protection services across the country converged for a consultative meeting in an effort to build solidarity, unity of purpose, as well as enhanced coordination among child protection CSOs in Botswana.