Responsible parental care stressed to strengthen children’s protection

THE newly launched national agenda for responsible parenting and family care states that parents have a big chance to guarantee children’s safety and protection against any evil, hence, they should be empowered wherever necessary.

The national agenda was launched by Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Ummy Mwalimu during the just ended African Child Day commemoration in Geita Region.

The event was organised by the government in collaboration with some nongovernmental organisations, including Save the Children, Plan International, Compassion International, World Vision and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

The document’s content (national agenda) aims at mobilising readiness in Tanzanian society to help fathers, mothers and other caregivers to strengthen the family and develop a positive environment for the development of children.

The empowerment of parents/ guardians and caregivers is important for national goals on children’s protection to be achieved, says the document sponsored by Unicef.

It further says that, family customs and norms are powerful in Tanzania and there is cultural inheritance from one generation to the other. However, some social, economic and cultural changes lead to family misunderstandings.

In turn, such misunderstandings have been causing a breakdown of cultural relations in a manner that threatens the quality of parental care, hence, leaving children at high risk.

Ms Mwalimu said the government would continue collaborating with other stakeholders to meet the requirements of the national agenda, but in an actual sense, the responsibility of the protection of children’s rights should start at family level.

She blamed an increase in gender-based violence incidents and the existence of traditions that supported domestic violence on parents. She also blamed an increase in the number of gender inequality and conflict in families on them.

“The children have the right to live, to be protected, to be developed, to be heard and to be involved in decision-making.

Implementation of all these should start at home,” she said, affirming that: “The government for its side has been in various ways fighting for children’s rights, including reinforcement of the Child Act of 2009.

Article 1 of the Declaration on free primary and secondary education is also part of the government’s fight on the right to be educated, a step that has increased school enrolment,” said the minister.

She said 2015 the number of primary school pupils was 717,136, but after starting free education it shot up to 1.3 million pupils in primary schools and 1.8 million students joined second education.

Unicef Deputy Country Representative in Tanzania, Rene van Dongen hailed the Tanzanian government for its efforts to support parents to improve their children’s development and future lives.

He commended the policy and a legal framework on good parenting and family care practices, saying the move was extremely important.

Mr van Dongen told participants that child development from birth to adulthood was influenced by many people - health workers, teachers, faith and cultural leaders along with community members.

“Y et, it is the care given by family members that has by far the greatest impact on the course of children’s lives.

Many parents in Tanzania face numerous challenges that can put children at risk. Increasing mobility leaves many families isolated from the support of traditional social works,” he said, adding that: “The responsibility of child rearing is often left to mothers and female caregivers.

As most people know from experience, parenting a child is not an easy task as it needs support to help them in that important task.” “This national agenda spells out five key action areas: nurturing, care, protection, love and family development to support parents and caregivers.

Children, who grow in a loving family will have high self-esteem, improved academic performance, fewer behavioural problems and will become better parents themselves in their lives,” he said.

He stressed that, an important part of parenting was to empower children to speak out and learn about self-protection against violence and abuse.

The Unicef deputy country representative in Tanzania made the call, especially to parents and policy-makers to listen more closely to the voices of children, their dreams and aspirations.

All stakeholders should create more partnerships with children and young people and give them space and resources to help them turn their dreams and aspirations into actions.

According to him, Tanzania’s future wellbeing and wealth lie in the hands of parents and caregivers and the way current and future generations of children are raised.

There is a need to invest more in parents and caregivers to make Tanzania fulfill its dreams of becoming an industrialised nation by 2025.

At the event, the minister also launched the “Girls Get Equal” campaign implemented by Plan International in collaboration with the Health Ministry aims at enabling girls to speak out and practically promote the need of equality for girls.

In turn, equality should be used as the main tool to fight against challenges and development barriers that the girls face in their lives as a result of existence of norms, customs and cultures as well as economic status and growth of technology use, said Projects Director for the Plan International,

Dr Benatus Sambili. The “Girls Get Equal” campaign is set to cover four areas, which are equal power, equal freedom in public space, equal freedom online as well as equal representative.

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