PANOS Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) is conducting a national child protection conference for traditional and religious leaders to identify and discuss traditional and religious customs or beliefs that endanger the protection of the rural child.
PSAF executive director Lilian Kiefer said the programme was part of the strengthening rural child protection systems project implemented to suggest ways of improving and strengthening rural child protection systems at community and national level.
“The project has brought together more than 30 traditional and religious leaders from Eastern, Lusaka, Western, Central and Northern provinces, to mobilize traditional and religious leaders to play an active role in facilitating effective child protection at community level,” she said.
Ms Kiefer said the conference would also identify and discuss traditional and religious customs and beliefs that endanger the protection of the rural child and mobilize traditional and religious leaders to commit themselves to promoting child rights and child protection in their communities.
“PSAf has structured the two-day conference in a way that would enable the leaders to discuss perspectives of child related issues within their communities, share the challenges they are facing and their proposals for addressing the challenges,” she said.
Ms Kiefer said the leaders would have opportunities to share their experiences in protecting children and what they think were gaps and opportunities.
“This is expected to equip the leaders and their subjects with increased skills to drive effective community-based child protection initiatives,” she said.
She said PSAf was implementing the Strengthening Rural Child Protection Systems project to promote the effective participation of different stakeholders in preventing and responding to all forms of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence against children at community and national level.