The five-day, conference which opens on Tuesday, September 3, would be attended by Marta Santos Pais, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) on Violence Against Children (VAC).
The conference aims to create a stronger regional network of all stakeholders including children working on VAC across the 13 countries in West and Central Africa, a statement by Plan Ghana and copied the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra said.
Delegates would discuss issues of harmful practices that violate the rights of children and young people in the Region at the meeting which is on the theme: “Stop harmful practices against boys, girls and young people within West and Central Africa.”
It is an initiative led by the child rights organisation, Plan International, in collaboration with the Government of Ghana, UNICEF, Save the Children International, Global Initiative to End Corporal Punishment Against Children, World Vision, Actionaid and other child rights organisations.
The statement said millions of children in Africa continued to suffer from various forms of harmful practices, including Female Genital Mutilation, child marriage, bonded labour, accusations of witchcraft, as well as a number of other lesser known practices.
“Harmful practices have devastating consequences on the child’s life, development, health, education and protection, therefore, the participation of children and young people is key in all efforts to end these practices.
“The Forum would provide an opportunity for children and young people to share their views and hold governments, international agencies and other actors to account,” the statement quoted Adama Coulibaly, Plan International’s West Africa Regional Director.
The 2006 UN Study on Violence Against Children presented 12 recommendations to prevent and address issues on VAC including those associated with harmful practices.
The Study has since been used as the basis to promote global action to ensure children’s protection.
The SRSG on VAC will continue to collaborate with UNICEF, Plan International and other child protection organisations across regions to push for further mainstreaming of the recommendations in the national policy agenda.
“Dialogue and regular consultations with children and young people will remain a core component of UN-led efforts to end violence against children,” said Marta Santos Pais, SRSG on VAC.
“I look forward to cooperating with the African Union and the African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in supporting initiatives within the African region.”