Protecting the rights of children starts with recognizing and adhering to legal and institution recommendations - provided by different stakeholders - on all issues relating to children. Uganda has a variety of these tools such as the National Council for Children Statute (1996), the Children’s Act (2003) among others; meant to provide counsel on children’s rights.
On 9th November, 2016, yet another step towards protecting Uganda’s children was made. The ‘National Orphan and other Vulnerable Children’ policy dialogue was hosted by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development in conjunction with UNICEF, Panos Eastern Africa (working with NBS, WBS) and other members of the Child Protection Working Group; as a part of the National OVC policy review process.
Just like any other policy dialogue relevant in making and reviewing policies, the National OVC policy dialogue was conducted to provide a platform through which stakeholders working to protect children all over the country could interact and afford their ideas for the review of the National OVC Policy. The policy dialogue was specifically meant for identify any gaps in the current NOVC policy (2004), build consensus on emerging issues and set a clear road map for the development of the new policy.
Some of the issues discussed at the dialogue that will be given greater priority in the reviewed policy include;
- child trafficking, child marriages and child sacrifice in some regions in Uganda
- violence against children especially in form of corporal punishment and physical abuse (at home and in schools)
- cyberspace violence against children (exposure to explicit adult content)
- inadequacy of infrastructure (both hard and soft) for child development and support at community level
- birth rights (especially birth registration which affects access to justice)
- addressing root causes of vulnerability (preventive approaches to disaster risk reduction and management)
- delayed justice for crimes against children
- juvenile justice system in Uganda (issue of sharing facilities with capital offenders)
- child participation and accountability from leaders
- Independent living after CCI’s
- fostering appropriate sexual and reproductive health education avenues for children
- strengthening the role of the family in child welfare (family policy and parenting guidelines)
The policy dialogue is to be followed by; the selection of a think tank of consultants to oversee the review process, development of an inception report, regional and national consultations and validation of the policy draft by stakeholders, among other steps.
The National OVC policy (2004) can be read here (www.mglsd.go.ug/policies/National%20OVC%20Policy.pdf )