To promote their participation and decrease their vulnerability, all environmental planning, policies, strategies, and decisions must include Rwandan children at the center. For them to effectively advocate for and defend their rights to a safe, clean, and healthy environment, they must actively participate at all levels of decision-making. The application of children’s rights in the environmental sector must place a strong focus on being gender sensitive, intersectional, and disability inclusive.
The capacity of Nature Rwanda’s staff and partners in the areas of children’s rights, gender equality, and social inclusion has been increased through the staff training. The participants learnt how to include children’s rights into their activities by providing them with a space to fully engage in various activities. This training was prepared by Nature Rwanda under support of Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), through Save the Children International in Rwanda, with aim to develop strong civil society organizations that demand and support the fulfilment of children’s rights—holding states to account and mobilizing and empowering children and their communities.
Every child has the right to a healthy environment”UNICEF
Participants demonstrated good understanding of the training concepts and showed willingness to include child rights in their activities, particularly for our partners who work with children on a daily basis. They also appreciated this initiative, which will allow children to be engaged in all projects at all stages of implementation, particularly in the areas of environmental conservation. Since they had limited knowledge of children’s rights, gender and social inclusion before the training, they all emphasized the training extension for a huge audience.
Maurice NGIRAMAHORO, Conservation Education Officer at Dian Fossey Gorillas Fund, said that before attending training he always asked himself how to link children’s rights, gender, and social inclusion with environmental conservation. As a result of the training, he can clearly relate to all aspects and will help the Fossey Fund to improve their conservation education program.
“Before I attended this training, I was asking myself, what about child rights, gender and social inclusion? Because there is a link between this topic and what we do in the community in our daily activities. But after these sessions , it was clear that we didn’t consider social groups including children’s rights, gender and social inclusion, likely disability inclusion, but this was the time to change our structures by respecting children’s rights in our activities and letting them participate fully and initiate their own works, and including children with disability in our daily activities.”
Gloria Kamwezi, a Researcher Fellow at the University of Rwanda’s Center of Excellence in Biodiversity, CoEB, said that the concept of child rights in biodiversity conservation was something new to her.
“Before attending this session on children’s rights, gender equality, and social inclusion, I had no idea how to incorporate these three aspects into environmental and biodiversity conservation. By completing the training session, I gained new skills that I can apply to my regular work, especially in our Center’s programs”.
Yvette NISHIMWE, Environmental Leadership and Capacity building Officer at Nature Rwanda, explained how these sessions are the pillars for the program implementation.
“These sessions have already changed both my work and personal life in such a positive way. I’m glad I learned about child participation; before the training, I thought it was all about including them in our planned activities, but then I learned that children should be the ones to initiate activities and engage us for support, not the other way round. I also learned that every activity/project/program should be inclusive, which means that children who are most impacted by inequality and discrimination, such as those with disabilities and those from low-income families, should be included ”.
This project entitled “Children empowerment towards environment leadership and practices”, and will last for five years, inspiring and supporting children to become active participants in creating a suitable environment for their health, education, and development in a fun and relevant way, using “Greenie” as a “vehicle”. Nature Rwanda will integrate principles and policy guidance on children’s rights to a safe, clean and healthy environment.
By Deborah ISHIMWE