December 13, 2023 (ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia): The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), in collaboration with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and Save the Children NGO, organised a National Consultation workshop on the IGAD Child Policy Framework in Ethiopia.
Representatives from civil society organizations (CSOs) and international partners with a keen interest in child protection attended the meeting, along with representatives from the Ministry of Women and Social Affairs of the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Girum Hailu Maheteme, Senior Coordinator in IGAD’s Health and Social Development division, delivered remarks on behalf of Mme. Fathia Alwan, Director of IGAD’s Health and Social Development division, and the Executive Secretary. He noted, “The policy stands as a testament to IGAD’s commitment to promoting the rights and welfare of children in line with the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, to which six IGAD member states are ratifying parties.”
During the opening session, Getachew Alito, CEO of Child Rights and Protection at the Ministry of Women and Social Affairs, emphasised the significance of IGAD’s policy-making initiative. He highlighted its role in forming a foundation for further initiatives, action plans, cooperation, and interventions aimed at preventing, protecting, and promoting children’s rights. He underscored its contribution to strengthening child protection systems within member states, recognising the integral role played by children, families, communities, civil society, and inter-regional governmental organizations in this system.
Jeannine Hollans, Deputy Country Director of Save the Children Ethiopia, emphasised their belief in the positive impact of a protective policy framework on the children in the region, particularly in Ethiopia. She stressed the importance of cultivating an environment that respects and fulfills children’s rights and well-being at all times.
The consultations in Ethiopia enabled:
- National stakeholders to engage meaningfully and offer consultations on the draft IGAD Child Policy.
- Document the challenges hindering children’s rights and well-being in Ethiopia, including existing legal, policy, and institutional barriers.
- National stakeholders to provide inputs to adjust, amend, and improve the provisions of the draft IGAD Child Policy as necessary.
IGAD initiated the development of a child policy to establish a robust framework for coordinating, streamlining, and harmonising activities in child protection and other relevant sectors. Similarly, IGAD is committed to integrating child-focused and child-sensitive approaches into its structure and operations, supporting member states in fulfilling their international and regional commitments as outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
In July 2022, representatives from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda, alongside the IGAD Secretariat and international partners including the Regional Child Protection Network (IOM, Save the Children International, UNICEF, and World Vision), convened in Mombasa. The meeting aimed to enhance the content of the draft Child Policy by consolidating and reviewing different sections to better reflect the main priority areas for the IGAD region.