The Islamic Republic of The Gambia recently launched the National Child Protection Strategy 2016-2020, developed with technical and financial support from UNICEF. The Strategy, along with its costed Plan of Action, is the result of a series of consultations and engagements led by the Department of Social Welfare, with critical input from the Child Protection Sub-Committee and a wide range of child protection actors, community members, care-givers and children.
The Strategy follows from a mapping and assessment of the Child Protection systems in The Gambia held in 2013, and demonstrates the commitment to ensure that these systems are made consistent with the rights and welfare of children in the country. The mapping and assessment drew attention to a range of critical issues including child marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting, child labour and other forms of violence against children.
Effective response to these child protection issues in The Gambia requires a systemic approach, involving the contributions and action of all child protection actors as well as community members. The five-year Strategy seeks to move towards sustainable interventions to ensure that quality services are provided for all children who need them.
With a vision to create “a country where all children receive comprehensive protection that contributes to the achievement of their full potential, and participate in their own protection form risks of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation”, the launching of the Strategy couldn’t have come at a better time. With new opportunities in the creation of legislation against the practices of FGM/C and child marriage, the strategy stands a great chance at fulfilling its intended purpose.
Speaking to the Press shortly after the launching, the UNICEF Resident Representative, Sara Beysolow Nyanti commended the government of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia and partners for the steps taken to create an enabling environment to provide child protection services to all children in the country. She added that the strategy does not belong to any one sector of government, but to all sectors involved in ensuring protection and safeguarding of the rights of children such as Justice including the Judiciary, Social Welfare, Health, Police and others.
The accompanying costed Child Protection Plan of Action 2016-2018, developed to guide the implementation of the Strategy, highlights key activities proposed from the 2013 mapping an assessment. These activities are to be implemented within the given timeframe, aiming to achieve comprehensive results in the protection of children in The Gambia. The Plan of Action answers to the six strategic objectives of the Child Protection Strategy, and will address systemic prevention and response to child protection issues across the country.