Skip to main content

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) recently held a landmark event in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, marking the first-ever children’s consultation workshop on the IGAD Child Policy Framework. This event signifies a pivotal step in including children’s voices in policy-making processes, ensuring their perspectives are considered in developing child-sensitive initiatives.

IGAD, one of the eight regional economic communities recognised by the African Union, comprises Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Uganda. Committed to fostering peace and promoting economic and social development through regional cooperation, IGAD has developed various policies to enhance the quality of life for individuals and communities in the region. These policies cover diverse sectors, including health, education, social protection, and child welfare.

Despite progress in several areas, IGAD recognised the need for a stronger focus on child-sensitive approaches. This recognition led to the initiation of a child policy aimed at harmonising and enhancing IGAD’s activities related to child rights and welfare.

In July 2022, representatives from IGAD member states, along with international partners such as IOM, Save the Children International, UNICEF, and World Vision, gathered in Mombasa, Kenya, to discuss the draft Child Policy Framework. The objective was to refine the policy content, ensuring it effectively addresses the region’s priority areas. A second technical review took place in October 2023 in Machakos, Kenya, further enhancing the draft policy’s structure and comprehensiveness.

Following these reviews, national consultations were recommended to engage various stakeholders in discussing the advanced draft of the Child Policy. Two national consultations involving government and non-government stakeholders held in Ethiopia on 12-13 December 2023 and in Juba on 7-8 May 2024 were conducted so far.

Recognising the importance of including children in the policy-making process, IGAD organised a consultation workshop for children in Ethiopia, held on 5 May 2024. The event, supported by the East Africa Migration Routes Project funded by Switzerland, aimed to ensure children’s voices are heard and considered in developing the IGAD Child Policy.

The workshop involved children selected through the National Child Parliament, representing different regions of Ethiopia. The selection process emphasised inclusivity, considering children affected by inequality, disability, migration, displacement, and other socio-economic factors.

The primary objective of the children’s consultation was to engage children meaningfully in the policy-making process. This engagement provided firsthand insights into their needs and challenges, ensuring their views are reflected in the Policy. The consultation adhered to child safeguarding principles, with a child-friendly approach, risk assessments, and stringent safety measures to ensure the well-being of participating children.

The children’s consultation aimed to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Enhance children’s understanding of their rights and the resources available to them.
  • Ensure children’s views are heard and considered in the IGAD Child Policy.
  • Provide children with an opportunity to share their needs and challenges and propose solutions for policy-makers.

Quotes from the opening session included:

Dr Shadrack Oiye, IGAD Public Health and Nutrition Expert and Programme Coordinator: “IGAD believes the region’s children deserve the highest standards of protection and welfare. This policy will help to develop child-sensitive initiatives and programmes.”

Azmeraw Belay, Head of Child Rights Governance, Save the Children Ethiopia: “Ensuring children’s participation in matters affecting their lives is one of the cardinal principles of children’s rights. This national consultation on IGAD Child Policy ensures their meaningful participation.”

Meron Getachew, Migration Advisor, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC): “The Swiss government supports efforts that promote the rights and welfare of children. This workshop counters the misconception that children can’t provide meaningful inputs on high-level issues.”

Kidus Molla, Chairperson of the National Child Parliament: “The Child Parliament in Ethiopia works to promote children’s rights. Federal and Regional parliaments encourage children’s participation in major issues affecting them.”

Zebider Bogale, CEO of the Child Rights and Protection Desk, Ministry of Women and Social Affairs (MOWSA): “Meaningful participation of children in key issues is a cardinal principle of child rights. IGAD’s work will help create a generation capable of solving the region’s problems.”

The consultation workshop in Ethiopia sets a precedent for future engagements, highlighting the critical role children play in shaping policies that affect their lives. IGAD’s commitment to child-sensitive approaches marks a significant advancement in child rights and welfare initiatives at the regional level.

IGAD press end

Close Menu