Private sector operators in different sectors have been tipped on their role towards promoting and protecting children’s rights.
This was during a meeting organised by UNICEF to sensitise different private sector actors in “children’s rights and business principles,” a UN agenda aimed at promoting corporate social responsibility in respect to children’s rights in the workplace, marketplace and communities.
Launched in 2012, the agenda calls for recognising the need for explicit guidance on what it means for business to respect and support children’s rights.
The event mainly focused on how the private sector can help create a good environment for the growth and safety of employees’ children while employees are working.
A study by UNICEF carried out in tea growing communities in Northern, Southern and Western provinces showed that there is a risk of malnutrition among children of workers in tea plantations because the parents do not get enough time to care for their children.
It also showed that some children are mentally stunted because they are often left alone by their parents for longer periods of time.
The study also showed that in case mothers have to be with their children at work, they have to carry them on their backs which often meant that the toddlers delay to walk.
The children would also be at risk of being bitten by snakes or were exposed to other dangers when left alone while their parents plucked tea, the study found.
To address this, UNICEF in partnership with NAEB started a sensitisation drive that targeted tea company owners on what they can do to ensure the wellbeing of their employees’ children.
As a result, SORWATHE factory in Northern Province has since established two day-care facilities for their employees’ children, while other companies are expressing interest to do the same.
Addressing business leaders that attended the event, Oliver Petrovic, the deputy country representative of UNICEF, said that businesses have enormous influence that they can leverage to promote the rights of children.
He commended government for the achievements made under the Millennium Development Goals framework and called for more efforts from both the private and public institutions to fight malnutrition and stunting.
Figures show that stunting stands at 38 per cent among children in Rwanda.
Nadine Umutoni Gatsinzi, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, urged the private sector to support government in matters relating to protection of children.
She underlined firms’ responsibility to help end child labour, as well as helping their employees with children by giving them a conducive environment to look after their children while being productive at work.