Hundreds of Rwandan children are convening in Kigali to discuss and express views about their rights.
More than 500 under-18 children, mobilized from around the country, joined by 20 others from East Africa Community states, are demanding unmet rights.
During the summit, broadcast live on state media, children ask policy makers to explain failure, while those who did not attend call-in and send suggestions by SMS. The summit starts on Thursday (November 20th).
Some of the rights discussed include, the right to live with parents, education, proper upbringing, healthcare, happiness, and an appropriate family environment.
The theme for the 10th summit is ’20 Years and Beyond: Advancing Child Rights in Rwanda.’ Captivating testimonies from children included some of their most painful life experiences.
Claudine Mukamusoni, now 13 years old, who had also attended the 7th summit, lost her father as he was serving in the military. Her mother could not raise them and decided to go back to her family with the children.
Unfortunately, her mother suddenly died as well. “I was lucky to have an aunt who took care of me,” Mukamusoni said, triggering tears among her fellow participants.
Had it not been for her aunt, Mukamusoni would be on the streets loitering. She said such meetings help them express their challenges to policy makers.
The Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Oda Gasinzigwa, said Rwanda is celebrating the progress made and seeking better ways to protect and promote the rights of all children.
UNICEF Representative, Noala Skinner, who attended the summit, said it “shows that children are at the heart of Rwanda’sdevelopment.”
Rwanda is the only country on the continent that offers such a platform to children.
The summit, held annually since 2004, is organized by the National Commission for Children (NCC) in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, provinces and the City of Kigali.
Minister Gasinzigwa says the summit is held after a series of grassroots consultations with children and parents.
The summit coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Twenty-five years ago this week, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which describes the rights all children have despite where they live or family circumstances.