Gender ministry to address child policy gaps

The Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare wants to develop evidence-based policies and programmes that are responsive to the evolving needs of children.

This was said by gender equality minister Doreen Sioka, in a speech read on her behalf by ministry acting executive director Nichlas Mbingeneeko, when he opened the three-day Child Research Initiative and Training (Crit) Kick-off Conference in Windhoek last Tuesday.

Sioka said the ministry had undertaken several initiatives including the enactment of laws to protect children, building capacity of staff to work with all types of vulnerable children, establishing structures and the allocation of resources including enhancing service delivery at all levels.

She said the ministry had collaborated with the University of Namibia (Unam), the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and other partners, under the theme ‘Thriving Children and Families’, to enhance and strengthen collaboration in areas of child research.

The minister said this collaboration had highlighted gaps in child research.

“There is no child-focused ethics review body in Namibia and as the authority responsible for ensuring child well-being in all areas, the ministry wishes to push for the establishment of such a body to ensure that any person, institution or entity conducting research in Namibia where children are participants, does not cause harm to the child and the researcher’s conduct is beyond reproach,” said Sioka.

Unicef country director Samuel Ocran echoed the minister’s sentiments saying the organisation’s work on data for children is based on a simple premise.

“We believe that smart demand, supply, and use of data determines better results for children. When the right data is in the right hands at the right time, decisions can be better informed, more equitable, and more likely to protect children’s rights.

“Disaggregated data – which can reveal the children who are thriving and those being left behind – are an essential tool for realising the rights of every child,” he said.

Unam Project leader Ndilimeke Nashandi said aim of the conference was to gain insight and input on the establishment of Crit from multi-system direct service providers, researchers, data system administrators and policy makers working with children.

– email: matthew@namibian.c

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