Opinion

6 years of activism and protection for children in the digital space, the story of Child Online Africa

6 years of activism and protection for children in the digital space, the story of Child Online Africa

Child Online Africa (COA), formerly J Initiative; a child-focused research and advocacy-based non-governmental organisation has been campaigning for children and young and their families to influence policies and change practices in the digital space.

In the era of technology, where school-age children like going online to look at videos, play games and connect with friends and family, the threats associated with the experience cannot be ruled out.

In the online space, children can come across four types of risks online – content, contact conduct & contract (commercialization) and Child Online Africa has been of immense support to children and young people in Ghana and Africa.

Navigating the opportunities as well as the threats can be overwhelming sometimes for even adults. Child Online Africa with the support of a partner has been providing Practical solutions to keep children in Ghana safe and protected in a child-friendly easy to follow formats.

The Organization has successfully advocated for the Child Online Protection to be incorporated into the Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy and also raised awareness on Child Online Protection and Safety in Ghana and Africa over the 6 years of its existence.

Over this period, the organization has trained some 88 teachers in Digital Citizenship; commenced the celebration of Safer Internet Day in from 1 region to all 10 regions of Ghana with the support from WVI, MFWA, Plan, Innovare, Tigo, Vodafone Foundation, MTN Foundation,  Ghana Education Service, National Commission on Civic Education, among others and once in Africa with the participation of 12 other African countries and have advocated for AU Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child to consider #OnlineSafety resulting in the Executive Council's decision for Digital Literacy, Data Protection among others to be factored into the work plans of the committee.

Co-Founder and the Executive Director of Child Online Africa, Awo Aidam Amenyah reveals the journey in the past 6 years has not been rosy. “The organization has successfully summitted at the Uhuru Peak of Kilimanjaro to create awareness on Online Safety in Africa. This campaign also resulted in an Africa forum on Child Online Protection by ITU,” she averred.

Beyond the above, the organization has provided training for journalists on Child protection reportage across Ghana in collaboration with World Vision Ghana & Africa Feed Academy; advocated for Digital Literacy and safety to be incorporated into the school’s curriculum after identifying the gaps in the existing syllabus and also developed and designed a number of resources for both school and the general public as well as across Africa.

Child Online Africa launched the Happy School Girl Project to support the call for a holistic Menstrual Hygiene Management. This has the belief that proper Menstrual Hygiene Management is the most suitable way for a girl to cope with her monthly periods hygienically. And in order to achieve the goal of proper Menstrual Hygiene Management, they designed their approaches to address the fact that Menstruation is a human rights issue and demands a number of actions from all stakeholders. In that vein, a hashtag was created under the Tax waiver demand dubbed:  #WhtTaxWomanhood.

Just around the 2015 campaign, they also introduced the Afropad which is a reusable pad down by or for the girls and also got the opportunity to represent the Be Girl Period panties, cup and pads.