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The world grapples with children’s human rights

By Ashok Ramsarup :: Over 1300 delegates from 28 countries are expected for the Fourth Global Child and Youth Care Network Conference that gets underway at the International Convention Centre in the port city of Durban, beginning tomorrow.

Government representatives,  members of  civil society, UN agencies,  non-governmental organisations,  the private sector and various philanthropies, are being  hosted by South Africa’s National Association of  Child Care Workers (NACCW), the International Child and Youth Care Network (CYC-Net) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with the Department of Social Development.

The three-day conference will focus on various issues, including a sharing of diverse child and youth care work experiences, practices, programs and policies.   Among those in attendance will include being senior officials from Government, civil society and UNICEF, including two of the organisation’s advocates, namely Lebohang Masango and Maps Maponyane.

A wide range of subjects will be under discussion ranging from access to justice to child participation, from the plight of refugee children to the power of story-telling.    Working with vulnerable, under-resourced communities, child and youth care workers are at the forefront of making a difference in the lives of millions of marginalised children around the world.

UNICEF Associate Director and Global Chief of Child Protection – Cornelius Williams –  says most the men and women are often contracted by their own communities hence leading to youth and women employment. Williams said their services proved to achieve the result in improved learning outcomes for vulnerable youth, reduced teenage pregnancy rates, reduced child abuse incident, a decline in gang violence as well as increased access to justice.

“This gives them a unique understanding of the context and situation of these communities and what can be done to address their needs, said  Williams.

South Africa is at the forefront in pioneering this form of child and youth care and the conference will provide a valuable platform to showcase the innovative child-friendly programmes that are being implemented in the country.

According to the latest figures by Statistics South Africa, 67% of children in the country are living below the poverty line and one-third of children are affected by abuse before the age of 18. This ultimately leads to a range of challenges later in life for these children including low learning outcomes.

Williams said the conference would showcase the strategic partnerships that had been forged, both in South Africa and globally, with governments, celebrities, NGOs and UN agencies to leverage resources and to create further awareness on the importance of this work so that every child is loved, cared for, empowered and able to thrive.

Ashok Ramsarup is award-winning senior journalist of South Africa 🇿🇦 

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