The Child Protection Alliance, a national network or alliance of 48 corganisations and institutions in The Gambia working for and with children, was formed on 26th April 2001. The Alliance is the first inter-agency institution in The Gambia whose focus is solely on child rights promotion and protection.
CPA was formed at a period when there was no national coalition solely and purposely devoted to the promotion of the rights of children in The Gambia. Efforts of NGOs working in child rights promotion and protection were not properly coordinated and the impacts of individual and ad hoc interventions were unnoticeable. In spite of the fact that The Gambia had ratified the UN CRC in 1990, the instrument was not adequately disseminated or popularized among the various sections of society. Child right was neither given much premium nor put any high on the political agenda. National laws which addressed the welfare of children were diverse and at ‘loggerheads’ with each other and none was harmonized with the CRC. ‘Child protection’ was a new concept and relatively unknown among professionals. Guidelines, policies and procedures were non-existent while the dynamics around child sexual abuse and exploitation were not well known or understood- no research was done in child protection. Children’s participat ion in decision-making at all levels of society, including in the programmes of child rights NGOs was inadequate. In most instances children were treated as passive targets or beneficiaries rather than as active participants in the development process and as rights holders.
The Alliance was therefore formed to fill these gaps in the child rights and child protection environment in The Gambia and in particular to raise awareness on and increase knowledge on issues affecting children; advocate and lobby for appropriate legal reform in relation to child protection issues and monitor the follow-up process; play a ‘watch dog’ role for children and the child sector; create common understanding and commitment to the protection of children among network members; promote child participation and monitor the implementation of legal instruments ratified by the country.
To promote child participation, CPA, in October 2002, formed a child-led advocacy group called ‘Voice of the Young’ which serves as the mouthpiece for children in The Gambia. This group conducts media programmes to raise awareness on the plight of children in The Gambia, builds the capacity of children in life skills, advocacy and child rights promotion and protection and engages policy makers, politicians and other duty bearers in dialogue for greater respect and realisation of the rights of children.
A society where children are protected from all forms of abuse and exploitation and are given the opportunity to actively participate in all issues affecting their own lives
Promoting child rights by working towards creating an enabling environment by strengthening the capacities of members to effectively and efficiently coordinate, monitor and implement child-related programmes, policies and laws through awareness raising, capacity building, research, advocacy, networking and alliance building.