Out of Africa: Strong Commitments made at our Regional Consultation

The Regional Consultation of Child Helplines, held in Tanzania and hosted by child helpline member C-Sema, closed with child helplines coming together and committing to do everything they can to prevent and respond to harmful practices that threaten the rights of children and young people.

Our child helpline members in the African and MENA (Middle East & North Africa) regions have issued a joint communiqué following the successful Regional Consultation of Child Helplines last week. In it, they commit to strengthening their contribution to preventing and responding to harmful practices – in particular, child marriages, early marriages and forced marriages, and female genital mutilation (FGM).

Specifically, they aim to support cross-border cooperation by facilitating information exchange on trends and good practices, by establishing standard operating procedures for girls at risk, by developing plans of action that take the cross-border dimensions of both FGM and child marriage into account, and by implementing advocacy and communication programmes at the regional, national and community levels. They also resolved to mobilise strategic partners to do the same.

These commitments strengthen child helplines’ contributions to several initiatives and declarations made by nations across the region, but in particular to Africa’s Agenda 2063 and Africa’s Agenda for Children 2040. This Agenda for Children aspires that, by 2040, “No child is exposed to sexual exploitation and used for child sexual materials”; that “No child is exposed to any form of violence, including gender-based violence, in the public or private sphere”; and that “Children are free from physical and psychological abuse.”

The child helplines’ statement pledges support for implementing the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population & Development, and the Sustainable Development Goals relating to the harmful practices of FMG and child marriages. The statement also goes on to describe the importance of recognising that the future of sustainable development is directly linked to fulfilling the aspirations of children and young people. “Empowering the world’s 1.8 billion young people, and unleashing their full potential to contribute to economic and social progress, will be instrumental … in delivering the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Regional Consultations are convened for Child Helpline International’s member every two years. They are always a great opportunity to bring child helplines together to meet, debate, share experiences and best practices, and join forces alongside high-level partners, child rights and child protection experts, and government ministers and officials. This Regional Consultation has truly united its delegates in a common and noble purpose, and demonstrates once again Child Helpline International’s goal to ensure that no child is left unheard.