BUILDING SOLIDARITY AND HOPE AMONGST CHILDREN AND YOUTH IN AFRICA
« Our action was a huge success, the turnout was massive. We saw on television that it had a big impact. Infact, the parade of the 1st May 1994 was a detonator; it gave us courage because we realized our capacity. Meanwhile, contacts were established with our colleagues in Mali, Ivory Coast, Benin, etc.. Thus we were able to travel to Bouake. »
Oumy Ndir, domestic worker (Senegal)
« We worked on our side at the Bouake EASEMO center, the animators were in a nursing school. One day we asked the question of Labour Day participation. Sophie « answered by explaining the living conditions of domestic child workers and aspirations in Senegal ». Then, each one emphasized certain rights in relation with an activity in his country. Me, I identified two, the right to learn to read and write and one to learn a trade.
Raphael Sery, Luggage in-charge(Ivory Coast).
Extraits from the Voice of African Children (book written by the WCY in 1998).
The AMWCY was founded in 1994 in the Ivory Coast by children and youth from 4 countries since then has rapidly grown and now operates in 27 African countries. At the end of 2015 it counted 975,054 members and sympathizers including 308,072 effectives members, grouped in 4,331 grassroots groups federated in 380 associations The majority – 73% of the members are children (under 18 years old). 57 % of the members are girls.
The 27 Countries where the AMWCY operates
Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Chad, Tanzania, Togo and Zimbabwe.
The movement gathers children and young people who did not have the opportunity to go to school or stopped too early for various reasons (poverty, classes’ congestion, etc.).These children had to work to help their families and support themselves. They aspire to study and prepare for their future. They also wish to actively contribute to the development of their countries.
The members include: employees: waitresses in cheap restaurants, domestic girls; apprentices: sewing, carpentry and welding; self-employed: luggage carriers, shoe-shiners, street vendors; others are: farmers, fishermen, girls underemployed but helping at home, students who study and work…
Rights in Action of Working Children and Youth.
Organized in grassroots groups, each WCY leads actions to improve the situation of its members and also of other children pursuing solidarity. Each WCY works within the framework of the AMWCY 12 rights:
*to read and write – *to express oneself– *to be taught a trade– *to play and leisure–**to health care-*to be listened to- *to rest when sick- *to work in safety- *to be respected and dignity- *to stay in the village- *to light and limited work- *to equitable justice
This platform of 12 rights which – set by the founding members of the AMWCY in 1994 – is still valid and constitutes a shared reference for all the members. Several studies show that the WCY have translated the rights of the child into their reality and their practices.
But rights must be built. This is what WCYs are doing every day to progress and make other children progress. By negotiating the availability of classrooms in the evening schools and access in health centers, by exercising vigilance at any time towards children in mobility, by multiplying activities and leisure and diminishing the hours of work, by showing solidarity and being friendly with each other.
The regular monitoring of the AMWCY shows the following results for 2015: thanks to the AMWCY 509,127 children able to study or read/write, 524,974 work fewer hours or less hard than before, 459,844 are in better health, 717,072 feel protected against violence and abuse, and 642, 155 have more fun than before.
It is a solidarity that extends gradually among village and town children across borders. It is a hope to achieve here and now, the collective dream of seeing the rights and aspirations grow.
The AMWCY objective is to give protection to 1,000,000 children by 2018
AMWCY and the Millennium Development Goals
The movement contributes to progress towards many of the MDGs: MDG 1 (elimination of poverty) through the development of income-generating activities, alternatives to exploitative work; MDG 2 by its action in education and literacy; MDG 3 through the promotion of girls which are the majority of the members. It also contributes to MDG 6, 7 and 8.
The AMWCY voice in the international debate
The AMWCY has officially gained observer status in the African Committee on the Rights and the Well Being of the Children of the African Union; it has also contacts with ECOWAS. It is a member of the Inter Agency Group on « Children on the Move » at the international level, together with big NGOs such as Enda, Oak Foundation, Plan international, Save the Children, Terre des Hommes, World Vision, and United Nations agencies: ILO, IOM, UNHCR, UNICEF. It is present and active in the main debates concerning children and their rights, notably at the United Nations, in particular with the “Committee on the rights of the child”.
On average the AWCY generates and mobilizes 80% of their resources at country level in cash (54%) and in kind (26%). To note the important contribution of volunteering work done by the members themselves. The remaining 20% of the budget is provided by the AMWCY and managed by Enda TM (with a team mainly composed of «former AMWCY members»); it contributes to fund their actions plans, to reinforce the coordination and the internal governance of the Movement, it supports training, communication and lobbying and it funds communications material.
In 2013 the total budget of the AMWCY amounted at 2.6 millions euros: the resources generated at country level by the AWCYs amounted to almost 1.7 million euros. The resources mobilized by ENDA TM amounted at 0, 950 million Euros.
The organizations which support or have supported financially the WCY include Oak Foundation, Plan Finland, Save the Children Finland (Finish MFA) and Sweden.The Movement produces a monthly Email newsletter and has an active communication strategy.
It is primarily at the base: in the towns and villages, the AWCY radiate through multiple actions of human rights concretization, literacy, negotiation with health structures to facilitate access to the WCY, alerting authorities on raids and issuing membership cards, afforestation campaigns, birth registration, entertainment and child recreation, the denouncement – of abuse, prevention of child migration and also support to children in migration. In most cases and with much patience, the WCY succeed in imposing their existence and even involving parents, officials and traditional leaders during their marches, sometimes making them the spokesmen of their message.
At the national level:
This is information on a broader level and to become successful in the media but not without difficulties. It is also developing action plans, broader than the city and participate in multiple coalitions with or without the government. While continuing to do ground work in the town areas, there is relations work to do on a much larger scale. Fortunately, the movement has partners and friends, locally, among NGOs and international organizations who know them and recognize their potential and make it easier, despite the cultural reservations which remain strong.
At the African and international level:
Its interventions are frequent (see chapter on “international lobbying”). The process of « a world fit for children» in New York then in Africa, the African Union Committee of Experts, with the discussion on child migration within in the framework of ECOWAS, the rights of « street children” to the Commission of the human rights in Geneva, the AMWCY takes the floor, helped by their friends participating in the regional group on “child migration” in which they participate diligently alongside members from ILO, ENDA, IOM, Plan, Save the Children, Terre des Hommes and UNICEF.