Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Prof. Peter Katjavivi (right) and UNICEF country Representative, Rachel Odede (left) signing the MOU at the National Assembly today (30/03/2021).
|Story by George Sanzila
Windhoek - A memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been signed between the National Assembly and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The MOU is aimed at capacitating Parliament with research based data to boost its advocacy efforts related to the rights of children. The two institutions have already had a long standing partnership, with the Children’s Parliament initiative, forming part of this relationship. UNICEF partnered with the National Assembly to launch the Fifth Children’s Parliament in 2019.
Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Prof. Peter Katjavivi, who commended UNICEF for its continued support in matters involving the wellbeing of children, noted at the ceremony that Parliament has always promoted the protection of rights of children including their participation in the democratic process. “The continuous protection of the rights of all Namibians is fundamental to the effective functioning of our democracy. It is therefore crucial that the legislature, within the scope of its work makes special provision for the most vulnerable groups in our society”, said Hon. Katjavivi.
The Speaker further noted that the MOU will culminate into research based data to support legislation, improved oversight, budgetary allocation and proactive citizen’s engagements on issues pertaining to the rights of children.
UNICEF Representative in Namibia, Rachel Odede noted prior to signing that children’s lives still lagged behind despite economic growth experienced in many countries. “Children’s lives have not improved as much as they should. They are many causes for this including periodic natural disasters experienced by countries, budgetary pressures, capacity constraints, patterns of resource distribution, conflict and insecurity in some countries and the continued impact of the HIV pandemic”, said Odede.
According to Odede children still bear the brunt of vulnerabilities such as child poverty and violence at home. She noted that it was imperative that a working relationship with parliament is developed to ensure that vulnerable children’s rights are prioritized. “The focus of our partnership is to develop and strengthen in country capacity to better respond and address inequalities still persisting and to ensure that the implementation of child friendly policies trickles down to the most vulnerable of our society. Our partnership seeks to place the rights of the poorest and underprivileged children at the centre of the nation’s policy and resource allocation agenda”, stated Odede.
Odede noted that collaboration and a multi-sectoral approach to issues involving children, would swiftly and adequately address the persisting challenges of inequalities. “We believe that influencing policy and policy key actors, including community members, local authorities, Parliamentarians and the Ministry of Finance play a crucial role in redressing inequalities and ensure that the most deprived and excluded children and their families have the opportunities and resources necessary to survive and thrive”, said the country representative.
The MOU will remain in effect until the year 2023.