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Give children a chance to articulate own issues using radio

To commemorate the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting today, Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) calls on broadcasters in Southern Africa to pay more attention to children’s views, and support children to be part of the programming processes.

The International Children’s Day of Broadcasting (ICDB) is commemorated every first Sunday of March annually, as a way of encouraging broadcasters across the world to raise awareness on issues affecting children. The ICDB has evolved over the years to include children themselves taking the lead in broadcasting programmes that advocate for the betterment of their lives by ensuring that their views and concerns are taken on board.

As an institution, our desire is to see a Southern Africa where children participate in shaping the development agenda in their respective countries and communities. One way of achieving this is by providing mass media communication platforms for amplifying children’s voices, allowing children to air their views on issues of concern to them, and ensuring their views are given due weight, as provided for in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), particularly in Articles 12, 13 and 17. The current situation where children’s views are rarely sought during scrutiny of government policies and decisions is regrettable.

For us at PSAf, we hold the ICDB as a great opportunity to remind each other on the importance of providing children with platforms to speak out and hold government leaders and other stakeholders to account on the promotion and protection of children’s rights.

Children are important stakeholders in the present and future development of any community or country.  However, it is not possible for children to participate meaningfully if they do not have access to media platforms for communication, and on the few occasions that they get to express themselves, children’s views are grossly undermined. It is for this reason that we challenge stakeholders in child rights advocacy to ensure that the commemoration of the ICDB takes on board children’s views seriously.

PSAf is concerned that without access to platforms to engage with decision-makers, it remains difficult for children to fully realise their potential and contribute positively to the development of their nations. Through support from our partners such as Save the Children, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, the Africa Freedom of Information Centre and the National Endowment for Democracy, we are supporting community and mainstream broadcasters to provide platforms through which children can have an equal say at every stage of decision-making.

For as long as children’s views are ignored as is currently mostly the case, a lot of potential will remain unrealised and the rights of children will continue to be violated. Let the ICDB be an opportunity for government officials and other stakeholders to listen to and seriously consider children’s views and concerns.

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