International Day of the African Child

Today is the Day of the African Child. Since 1991, this day has been celebrated on June 16 to commemorate those killed during the Soweto Uprising in South Africa, and to recognize the courage of the students who marched for their right to an education. This year’s theme is ‘access to child-friendly justice’.

‘Access to justice can be defined as the ability to obtain a just and timely remedy for violations of rights as put forth in national and international norms and standards (including the CRC). Lack of access to justice is a defining attribute of poverty and an impediment to poverty eradication and gender equality….Proper access to justice requires legal empowerment of all children: all should be enabled to claim their rights, through legal and other services such as child rights education or advice and support from knowledgeable adults.’[2]

UNICEF promotes equitable access to justice for all children, whether they are offenders, victims, or witnesses. We promote new and more child-friendly approaches to justice across the region, characterized by a focus on all children – boys and girls – in contact with the justice system.

Access to child-friendly justice is even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic. The secondary impacts of the pandemic include heightened risks of violence against children. In addition, the vulnerability of already vulnerable children is further exacerbated – this includes children deprived of their liberty or confined in police cells.  It is important that all children are empowered with knowledge of their rights and supported to access child-friendly justice – UNICEF

Today is also an opportunity to raise awareness for the ongoing need to improve the education of children living across Africa. It’s a need that still very much exists today. Of the 57 million primary school age children currently out of school around the world, over half are from sub-Saharan Africa.

Today, Equality Now is bringing to light the increased risk to child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation to girls across Africa. They are also urging African governments to prioritize the establishment of child-friendly justice systems so that girls who face child marriage and FGM can access justice and are protected from further violations. 

Equality Now offers ways you can support equality for girls on this year’s Day of the African Child:

✅ Kenya: Take action to protect girls from FGM & child marriage – enforce your laws

✅ Liberia: Call on the government to enact a comprehensive anti-FGM law

✅ Sierra Leone: Call on the government to enact a comprehensive anti-FGM law

✅ Tanzania: Urge the government to comply with their high court ruling against child marriage

✅ Make a donation to Equality Now and support our work to ensure that girls across Africa and the world are protected from the increased risks of child marriage and FGM. 

National Today has these following tips on how you can observe this day:

  1. Make a donation. There are many charities that support education for children in Africa. The K.I.N.D. project, launched by UNICEF, and Lawrence O’Donnell of NBC news, purchases desks and benches for children in Malawi. Consider writing a check.
  2. Volunteer at a local school. You don’t have to live in Africa to observe International Day of the African Child. Check out volunteer opportunities at your local schools or day care centers. Spend a little quality time with some kids.
  3. Learn more about the issues. We’re all part of the human race. The more we learn and understand each other the more we can work toward a harmonious planet. Spend a little time to learn more about the African continent, its history, and the challenges faced by its children.

You can also read about CAMFED‘s work on behalf African children at risk and their dedication to keeping girls safe and learning.

Your children can also be a part of the Day of the African Child.

UNICEF Malawi has announced a creative writing competition for children aged 12 to 18 on access to child-friendly justice in Malawi. Entries can be a poem, a short story, a blog, a song, an essay…anything creative! Participants are encouraged to be creative while expressing the following:

  • Why is it important for children to access justice if their rights are violated?
  • Why is child-friendly justice important?
  • What should be done to improve child justice systems in Malawi, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic which makes children even more vulnerable

The competition will run from Tuesday 16th June to Tuesday 23rd June (1 week). Details will be posted on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. Participants are encouraged to submit their content through email to The rules are as follows:


  • Only original writings will be considered for the competition. Previously published writings are therefore excluded. Any form of plagiarism will result in disqualification.
  • The writing should be no longer than 3000 words, footnotes included.
  • It should include name of the Participant, Location, Email ID, Contact number, Name of the School/College/University  


  1. Education as a human right. Throughout most of the world, free and public education is seen as a basic human right. International Day of the African Child encourages governments throughout the continent to provide quality education for children.
  2. It has important roots. The day harkens back to the Soweto uprising in South Africa in 1971, when students took to the streets to protest discriminatory education policies by the South African government.
  3. It highlights the value of education. Education is the key for children to grow up to be successful. There are mountains of data that show children who receive quality education at all levels have a better chance of success. International Day of the African Child reminds us that African children deserve a good education.

Take action. Help African children overcome the barriers they face in order to receive a quality education. Help give them hope. Help give them a future.

Sources: Equality Now; IF Global; UNICEF; National Today;

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