The Day of the African Child (DAC) was first launched by the Assembly of Heads of State of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1991 to be commemorated annually on 16 June. The day is significant as it honours the 1976 student-led uprising in Soweto, South Africa, that resulted in the killing of numerous unarmed students and young protesters by the apartheid regime. The day is, therefore, a reminder of the costly price these children paid for demanding respect of their fundamental rights to education and freedom. Over the years, DAC has also served as an opportunity for all stakeholders and actors committed to the protection and promotion of children’s right in Africa to come together, consolidate common goals, and address obstacles impeding the realisation of an Africa fit for its children.
As the custodian of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the African Committee of Experts has been spearheading the commemoration of the DAC since 2002. Each year, the Committee identifies a relevant theme for the DAC and organises and coordinates activities and events to commemorate the day at the continental level.
Following on the practice and on the basis of the Committee’s recommendation, the AU Executive Council, during its 40th Ordinary Session, held on 02-03 February 2022, adopted “THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD IN THE DIGITAL ENVIRONMENT” to be the DAC theme for the year 2023 and requested Member States to commemorate the DAC and report to the ACERWC on the theme. (See EX.CL/Dec. 1155(XL)).
In collaboration with Members States and its partner organizations, it has been the practice of the Committee to hold the commemoration of DAC in one or more AU Member States by organising various activities and events that focus on issues concerning children’s rights and welfare at the national, regional and continental level. The events are also an opportunity for children, Member States, policymakers, organisations, and other stakeholders across the continent working on children’s issues to examine and evaluate efforts, policies, and programmes to protect and promote children’s rights.