Namibia is addressing the needs of vulnerable communities and persons with disabilities, but something is missing, says member of the Children’s Parliament Rivaldo Kavanga.
“We are aware of how children with disabilities are being hidden away in various communities, how they are being left out of various activities, including attending school,” shared Kavanga during World Children’s Day celebrations on Saturday at Kazungula Bridge that runs over the Zambezi River, connecting Namibia with Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
He noted that after 32 years of Namibia having adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children with disabilities continue to be among the most marginalised and at-risk people in communities.
“These children face heightened risks of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, compared to children without disabilities,” said Kavanga. According to the Namibian national census of 2011, almost 27 000 children under 18 have a disability. From this total, only about 5 500 of these children are receiving a disability grant.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef)-organised World Children’s Day was attended by among others the presidents of Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Unicef said the Covid-19 pandemic has shown how inequality affects the rights of every child, from climate change, education and mental health, to ending racism and discrimination. But children and young people are raising their voices on the issues that matter to their generation, and calling for adults to create a better future. Another issue Kavanga raised was limited public awareness and understanding of children with disabilities.
“Sadly, far too many children and young people do not seek help because of stigma and discrimination around both abuse and mental health distress. Mental health is also underfunded almost everywhere, and governments must do more.” He stated that when children with disabilities are given opportunities to flourish like other children, they have the potential to lead fulfilling lives and to contribute to the social, cultural and economic vitality of their communities.
“We want bold action on the big challenges facing the world, and want our leaders to listen and give us agency, freedom and a voice in decisions that affect our future,” added the energetic young leader.