Unicef appeals for speedy assent to National Children’s Commission bill in Malawi

The United Nations Children Fund (Unicef) has appealed for presidential speedy assent to the establishment of National Children’s Commission bill which was passed by Parliament on 7 March 2019.

Unicef Malawi country representative Johannes Wedenig

According to a statement made available to Nyasa Times, the commission will put children’s best interests on the public agenda, encourage government departments and non-government agencies to coordinate their efforts and promote better laws, policies and services for children.

“The commitment of His Excellency the President, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika to the children of Malawi is evident in his April 2014 pledge to fulfil all rights of children and the youth. UNICEF therefore looks forward to his assent to the bill band the timely establishment of an independent national children’s commission,” reads the statement in part.

In his remarks, Unicef Malawi country representative Johannes Wedenig said His Organisation believes the National Children’s Commission would help to monitor and advocate for increased investment in children.

“A child protection budget analysis conducted by UNICEF in 2018 revealed that child protection programmes are largely invisible and underfunded. At MK100 (US$0.14) per child per year, total visible budget allocations to child protection are insufficient to effectively deliver quality and sustainable child protection services to all children in Malawi,” Wedenig explained.

He added: “Children constitute over half of Malawi’s population and the demographics justify paying special attention to their needs and that includes a dedicated independent coordination and oversight body that looks into children’s issues.”

An estimated 8.9 million of Malawi’s 17.5 million population are under the age of 18, making it one of the youngest populations in Africa.

About three- fifths (60.1%) of children in Malawi are multidimensionally poor and the majority live in rural areas. Children in Malawi are deprived in many aspects including education, nutrition, housing, health, water, sanitation and hygiene.

According to UNICEF, Although steady progress has been made to ensure that all children live in a safe and protective environment, high rates of violence against children persist.

About 42% of females and 66% of males in Malawi reported that they experienced physical violence during childhood.

UNICEF says it remains committed to support the Government to fulfil its obligations to promote and protect children’s rights, emphasizing that the goal is to see children’s rights visible in the national agenda, supported by an independent body with a specific mandate to represent their interests.

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