President Lazarus Chakwera Friday had a lively interaction with some of the country’s children on a wide range of subjects, as part of the commemoration of the World Children’s day which falls on November 20 each year.
From Covid-19 to water and sanitation; rape and defilement, the youngsters largely drawn from the country’s children’s Parliament, emptied their chest, much to the excitement of the President, who was equally handy with responses.
The children demanded sound policies and programmes as well as commitment from President Chakwera that would ensure their protection against all forms of violence.
The children took to task the Malawi leader, expressing worry over gaps in policies, laws and resources to safeguard their rights.
They highlighted the need to harmonise laws that protect their rights, ensure access to water and sanitation facilities and address increased cases of violence against children, in particular sexual violence.
President Chakwera said government through the Ministry of Justice will soon harmonise the law to align them with the Constitution, which recognises a minor to be under the age of 18.
“We want also everyone dealing with children’s affairs to realise that what has been adopted in ratifying UN Convention must be respected and operationalised at every level,” he said.
One of the children urged the President and his administration to help their plight by finding lasting solution to the growing cases of defilement.
In response, President Chakwera told the gathering that the honeymoon is over for child defilers, saying they will no longer be treated with kid gloves.
16 year old Victoria Ganamba from Mwanza District lobbied for full participation of children in decision making at various levels.
Unicef Country Representative Rudolf Schwenk said while strides have been made to protect children rights, there is still a lot to be done.
“36 percent of children across Malawi, especially the poorest, are still deprived of services in nutrition, health, water, education which is diminishing their ability to build a better future,” he said.
Statistics show that 69 percent of children have access to basic drinking water, nine percent have access to basic hygiene while 39 percent of children are involved in child labour among others.