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‘Malawi needs child ombudsman’

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Representatives of Save the Children are pushing for the enhancement of children’s rights in the country through the establishment of an ombudsman for the sector.

The organisation further says that children voices needs to be heard and their ideas promoted to protect and create an informed generation.

The sentiments came out during an all-stakeholders meeting in Lilongwe yesterday following a visit to Norway last year where the delegates appreciated and strengthened their understanding of well-functional independent monitoring mechanisms for child rights.

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Save the Children Country Director Tina J Yu emphasised the need for the nation to change its perception towards children to incorporate them as citizens that can hold sound opinions.

“It all boils down to perceptions around children and why children are not regarded as citizens that actually have an opinion, I think we can change that first,” Yu said.

She added that there is need to ensure equity in relation to Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal number 5.

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“If we can make sure that the voices of girls are heard, we can bring more voices to the table because what I have seen is that we, as adults, tend to tell children to be quiet which quashes their dreams and hopes for what they want to see as a country in Malawi,” Yu added.

Commenting on the matter, one of the commissioners at the Malawi Human Rights Commission, Dalitso Kubalasa, stressed that Malawi has a long way to go to protect children’s rights as the nation has failed to invest enough for them.

“I don’t need to mention all the challenges we are facing from primary schools, secondary schools; so all these child rights in terms of education, health, early childhood development, remain seriously threatened, so perhaps this would be the right approach for Malawi,” Kubalasa said.

Director for Child Development Affairs in the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare McKnight Kalanda said Malawi has made strides to protect children.

He singled out the establishment of the national children’s policy which he says is at an advanced stage.

“One of the policy priority areas is about child participation, because we see that as an area that needs strengthening.

“Most likely towards the end of this month we will be calling for a national validation meeting, after which we will present it to the committee of principal secretaries before it is presented to Cabinet,” Kalanda said.

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