Deputy minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elders and Children, Mwanaidi Ali Hamisi while launching the Junior Council of the United Republic of Tanzania (JCURT) commonly known as ‘Baraza la Watoto’.
She noted that child participation in the council is fundamental in the development of a nation and in building the confidence of children, thanking NGOs that always support the event.
“The government is in support of what NGOs and other development partners are doing to help develop Tanzanian children through the council” she said.
The council provides opportunities for children to participate in meetings with decision-makers so that children can express their concerns, challenges and share ideas from the family to the national level.
Members of the council work closely together with the government, NGOs and development partners like World Vision to address the issues raised by children and to find solutions.
Organizers believe that this also helps to build the capacity of children to speak out about what is affecting them and their communities as a whole.
“This is a great job in promoting child participation in the country by bringing together children from all districts and regions to discuss progress and challenges on promoting and fulfilling child rights in their areas” said the deputy minister.
Mwanaidi noted that the council was born as a result of a democratic process that saw the mass mobilization of children that took place during the run-up to the 2002 UN Special Session on Children.
She added that thousands of children across the country contributed ideas and helped to set priorities that were articulated in Tanzania’s presentation to the UN General Assembly.
Speaking at the same event, World Vision’s Sponsorship and Programme Facilitator, Magreth Mpwaji, also echoed similar sentiments, saying the council offers opportunities for children to learn how to express themselves.
“We are glad that through this council most children have been able to express their feelings and challenges freely” she said, adding that her organization is happy to be part of this development.
Earlier, acting Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Beatrice Mayao, termed the council as a special tool established by the government to bring children together and listen to their views.
Expressing children’s views, the outgoing council chairperson, Joel Festo noted that despite successes, there are still challenges facing the Baraza. He said while some local Governments, District Councils and NGOs have supported the establishment of Children’s Councils, overall national coverage is sparse and the quality of genuine participation, consultation and representation is extremely variable.