The Government of Djibouti ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, its two optional protocols in 2011, as well as, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in (2009) all without reservations. The country has thus committed to protect children’s rights and to work towards providing all children with the opportunities to fulfill their rights. Since then Djibouti has made tremendous progress in advancing children’s and women’s rights.
The was established in July 1981 and this year it turns 38 years as the Convention on the Rights of Children turns 30 years. This blog will reflect on what the CRC means for children and adolescents in Djibouti and how have they benefitted from it. The 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC30) is a unique opportunity to accelerate results for children.
Twenty-nine years ago, Djiboutian leaders made a promise to every child to promote and protect their rights by adopting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child –an international agreement on childhood. The Convention became the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history and helped transform children’s lives. Our government has taken action to ensure more children survive, develop and have decisions taken in their best interests. Today, fewer children suffer discrimination and more can participate in their communities.
Twenty-nine years on, child rights have not changed - they have no expiry date. But childhood has changed. In 1989, there was no world wide web, climate change was not fully understood, there were fewer protracted conflicts displacing populations and Djibouti was not as arid as it is today. The rise of digital technology, environmental changes and mass migration are creating new threats, and new opportunities, for Djiboutian children to realize their rights . As young people we must come together to seize these opportunities and identify solutions to old and new threats standing in the way of the realization of child rights and our rights as adolescents and young people.
Today, it is us children and adolescents who see these new challenges and opportunities most clearly. As young people we are speaking out for our right to an education, demanding an end to discrimination, striking for action on climate change, campaigning for digital reform and calling on leaders to protect our future. As children we are telling the elders, loud and clear, it is time for every child, to have every right.
In Djibouti 10 percent of children are not registered at birth and therefore don’t have a birth certificate (PAPFAM Report 2012). The birth certificate guarantees to the child an identity and the access to basic services such as vaccination, health care and school enrollment at the right age. It is also an essential condition for the protection of children against a wide range of abuses, such as early marriage, child labor, army enrollment, child trafficking.
I strongly believe that the best way to fulfil child rights is through concrete and specific policy commitments to children at the national and local level. For example, by passing a law banning all forms of corporal punishment or announcing new policies to fund universal primary education or enhancing accountability. The situation analysis conducted so far has resulted in greater awareness on birth registration, orphans and vulnerable children issues. is working towards strengthening information systems and data collection as well as evidence-based programming.
Despite positive progress, preschool education is not well known in Djibouti and it is for the most part private. School is obligatory at the age of six until sixteen, but in the end, only a little over one in two children aged 6 to 12 are educated, despite the availability of public education. In fact, other expenses linked to supplies often limit the access children to school, such as: overfilled classrooms, high rates of absent teachers, a lack of educational material and supplies, limited offers, and the distance rural students must travel to get to school. In the south of the country, for example, absenteeism is often due to the nomadic culture of the population, which renders the service unsuitable. As a result, adolescents aged from 13 to 18 are for the most part uneducated since 59 percent are not enrolled in school establishments.
As part of a UNICEF initiative, Djiboutian children will participate in the World’s Largest Lesson, which is aligned to the CRC30, to celebrate and empower children across the country to realize their right to participate in discussions and act towards a sustainable world.The new lesson, “Writing the Future of Childhood: For Every Child, Every Right”, encourages students to discuss the meaning of childhood, introduces them to children’s rights and invites them to envisage the future they desire for all children and choose a creative way to express this. By spotlighting the linkages between the SDGs and the CRC, students will recognize and fulfil their right to influence this future and act for it.
Written by Loul Idriss Daoud, 19 years. Loul dropped out of school as a result of financial challenges and she has been volunteering with ‘Coordination Actors of Community Frameworks’ where she has been spearheading youth programmes.