Botswana Network on Ethics on Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) as a human rights organization servicing children recognizes and commemorates the Day of the African Child, which is commemorated on 16 June every year since 1991.

The day was initiated by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in honor of those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day. The day also raises awareness of the continuing need for improvement of the education provided to African children.

The Day of the African Child (DAC) 2017 is commemorated under the theme “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Children in Africa: Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunity”. The Child friendly version is “Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunities for children in Africa by 2030.
This year’s theme re-affirms the importance of linking the 2030 Agenda with child rights, it also draws attention to the fact that the Sustainable Development Goals targets and indicators for children should be brought closer to the African Charter reporting cycle as well as inspire State Parties to accelerate efforts towards realizing all children’s rights as provided by the Charter, as a contribution towards accelerating the protection and promotion of all children’s rights in Africa.

This theme is relevant for Botswana taking into account the gaps that still exist in the protection and empowerment of children and the creation of equal opportunities for all children in Botswana. Botswana Network on Ethics Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) funded by Save the Children International (SCI) has been implementing a project called Children’s Rights aimed at contributing to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of children’s rights in Botswana.

The project focuses on promoting, protecting and fulfilling the rights of children in general and those in difficult circumstances like poverty, disability and discriminated for various reasons. One of the challenges that BONELA has recognized in the protection of children in Botswana is the fact that the child protection laws need to be aligned to the Constitution of Botswana and the Children’s Act of 2009, particularly on the definition of a child and addressing issues of sexual abuse and defilement. The Children’s Act 2009 that provides for the protection, empowerment and non-discrimination of all children in Botswana has also not been widely disseminated across the country especially in rural areas.

With the passage of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set for 2030, BONELA believes that this has set a transformational progression for the future of child development. These also require stakeholders and others relevant personnel to be involved in implementing this agenda such that it delivers for all children in Botswana.