Child Marriage and The Day of the African Child

The student of Nakalama Secondary School prepare their dance performances

This year’s Day of the African Child was celebrated by a thousand visitors in Iganga, Uganda. Among them hundreds of students from primary and secondary schools, different CSOs, CDCs, NGOs, the ambassador of UN and even the First Lady visited the event. The Hunger Project Uganda’s epicenter Iganga and the Her Choice project participated fully in these celebrations and were represented by volunteers, staff, the Mawagala Community Development Center, and the students of Nakalama Secondary School and St Andrews Secondary School. Both schools are active in different projects of the Hunger Project Uganda, and the students, dressed in Her Choice and THP uniforms, of Nakalama Secondary School prepared a set of performances for the day.

The African Union is assessing the effectiveness of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Children. In regard to this, this year’s theme of the Day of the African Child was named ‘Accelerating Protection, Empowerment and Equal Opportunities for Children in Uganda by 2030’. Through performances, poems, speeches and drama plays, the attending children and youth made clear statements of what they expect of their rights. There was a strong focus on gender equality, (sexual and domestic) abuse, children’s participation and the importance of advocating their rights.

‘Child marriage and child pregnancies are common these days, right? Colleagues am I lying?’
Student on stage during The Day of the African Child.

You could feel the excitement all over the field when the First Lady arrived to the event. Upon arrival she made a round by all the stands of the CSOs, CDCs and NGOs. The First Lady listened to each of the stories, motivations, goals and achievements. When the First Lady had finished her round and was seated, the time came for the delegation with which she came with, to take the stage for speeches.

Banners and flags on the Day of the African Child

Two young students, the representatives of the Children’s Parliament, also took the stage to list the most important issues raised in the Children’s Parliament. On the day prior to the Day of the African Child, the Children’s Parliament was organized in Iganga. Three groups of young people, in-school, out-school and disabled young people, were invited to speak their minds and list the most important issues for them.

It was a productive and exciting day. Eight follow-up actions have been formulated. One of those actions is creating awareness of the benefits of child participation and encouraging children to develop and to share their own ideas and opinions. Another is encouraging men to fully participate in early childhood development and parenting. THP Uganda, and the Her Choice program, are working hard on these, and more of the, follow-up actions.

Text and photos by Tes Schmeink