"All children have the same right, whether a girl or boy, able or disabled,"
"It doesn't matter whether a child is a boy or girl, disable or able or where a child comes from, all of them have the same right," Solomon Islands Endim Vaelens Agenstim Pikinini (SIEVAP) Project Manager Natasha Sokoleke echoed the sentiment during a recent event held in Auki to commemorate the International Children's Day and World Disability Day.
SIEVAP is a coalition working to increase children's participation and introduce children's voices into legislative processes and issues that concern them to become agents of change in the Solomon Islands and advocates for ending violence against children. The coalition included Save the Children, ChildFund, and World Vision Solomon Islands. The New Zealand Government supports the project.
The event that was held on December 3rd attracted hundreds of Malaitans to convene at the Auki Market. SIEVAP is proud to be part of the occasion that is full of excitement as the children parade through Auki Street, cheering and rallying for recognition in the societies. During the parade, the children held banners and papers with many slogans expressing their desire to be heard and get recognized in the decision-making against the many issues affecting them and their right to access services like schools, health, and so on forth.
Speaking on behalf of SIEVAP, Natasha said all children have the right to everything.
"In 1989, the world came together to empower children through the convention on the right of the child, and the Solomon Islands signed this convention on April 10th, 1995; these rights that children have are human rights, and every person on the planet have rights, and so does every child we have,"
"The rights that they have can make them have healthy and live a happy life, these rights include access to nutritious food, better health, and education, freedom to express issues affecting them, protection from any harmful stuff, it doesn't matter whether a child is a boy or girl, disable or able or where a child comes from, all of them have the equal rights," she explained.
She further said in terms of protection, every child has the right to be protected from all forms of violence that affect them.
Natasha also encouraged children part of the event to exercise their rights with the responsibility to protect and encourage one another and to respect their parents.
For SIEVAP, the day is unique as it gathers children, both able and impaired, to raise their voices to the world against the many issues they face, like violence.
"The Solomon Islands Youth Policy 2017 to 2030 stated that children make up 70 % of the country's population, where 40 % of that percentage is 18 years and below. The statistic further stated that 72 percent of children 18 years and below had experienced violence at home, school and communities, and that is an estimated 212,687 children," She emphasised.
The data is so concerning, and she urged parents to communicate regularly with their children as that is the only way to know the issues they are facing.