African leaders address education, empowerment for children

December 31, 2017

KHARTOUM, Sudan — African leaders, concerned with the state of children on the continent, gathered to discuss child rights and welfare at a major biannual summit this month.

Government representatives from Sudan, Angola, Cameroon, and Sierra Leone joined United Nations agencies, NGOs, and media organizations at the regional meeting in Khartoum. Among these actors was the Baha’i International Community Addis Ababa Office, which was able to offer a distinct perspective on the subject.

“The Baha’i International Community, of course, is not here to create policy,” said BIC Representative Solomon Belay. “However it is our aim to highlight and explore some of the principles underpinning the pressing matter of the welfare and prosperity of children.”

These principles include promoting the education of the girl child, preserving the dignity and nobility of every human being, emphasizing the importance of both spiritual and material education, and ultimately the fundamental oneness of humanity.

Participants at the gathering of African leaders to address child rights and welfare. Slideshow
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Participants at the gathering of African leaders to address child rights and welfare.

This month’s summit was hosted by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC). It is a space for government and policy leaders to gather and regularly consider the work of the United Nations initiatives to safeguard the rights of children. Although still relatively new, the regional BIC office in Addis Ababa has been endeavoring over the past few years to bring insights from the growing body of experience of the global Baha’i community to the African stage.

The work of Baha’i communities throughout Africa prioritizing moral, spiritual, and intellectual education for children informed the BIC’s contribution to the ACERWC summit earlier this month in Khartoum.

At the center of the Baha’i contribution to the summit was raising the critical importance of empowering young people, safeguarding their well-being in society, and nurturing a socially-minded generation.

“In order to realize the greatest potential of children and youth, it is imperative for society to come together to support the spiritual and moral development of young people on the continent,” said Dr. Belay.