Mandela, Machel nominated for children's rights award

Former president Nelson Mandela and his Mozambican-born wife, Graca Machel, are among the nominees for the 2005 World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child (WCPRC).

The announcement was made in Johannesburg on Tuesday by 15-year-old Xola Dubula, a South African child who will form part of an international jury of children to decide who will receive the prestigious prize.

Dubula said the Mandelas were nominated together,

“Machel is being nominated for the WCPRC 2005 for her long and courageous struggle for children’s rights, mainly in Mozambique.”

The teenager said Machel has fought for the rights of girls to go to school and her goal is to have “as many girls as boys in school”.

“Internationally, Graca has worked to help child victims of war and to stop the trafficking of children.”

Dubula added Mandela is being nominated for his life-long struggle to free the children of South Africa from apartheid, and the immense support he gives to their rights.

“Mandela continues to help South Africa’s children and demands respect for their rights. He not only wants all children to feel loved, he also wants to give them a better future.
That’s why he also gives children the chance to develop their talents.”

The children of the jury have been child soldiers, slaves, street children, refugees and fighters for children’s rights. They represent all the children of the world who have had similar experiences. Dubula represents children who have HIV/Aids.

The other two nominees are the Mothers of St Rita from Kenya—20 rural women who have for the past seven years been caring for Aids orphans—and Anna Maria Maranon de Bohorquez of Bolivia.

Confined to a wheelchair since she was a toddler, De Bohorquez has been helping street children for the past 30 years.

The CEO of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, Sibongile Mkhabela, accepted the South African nomination on behalf of the Mandela couple.

“On a daily basis, I engage on issues of children but this is a most humbling experience, when they speak for themselves. I accept this award on behalf of Mr Mandela and Mama Machel, who support children very much.”

The WCPRC consists of two unique awards for outstanding contributions to the rights of the child. Millions of children in 70 countries decide on the winner of the Global Friends Award in a global vote.

Eight thousand schools with five million pupils in 70 countries stand behind the WCPRC, say the organisers. Schools in South Africa can register for free and participate in the global vote.

Among the patrons of the WCPRC are Queen Silvia of Sweden, President Xanana Gusmao of East Timor, Prime Minister Goran Persson of Sweden and Nobel economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz.

The prize of $100 000 will be used by the winners to continue protecting the rights of the child.

The prize ceremony will be held on April 15 in Sweden, when Queen Silvia and the jury of children will hand over the awards. The winners will be announced on April 13.

The Swedish ambassador to South Africa, Helena Nilsen, was also present at Tuesday’s nomination conference.

Nkosi Johnson, the child Aids activist, was posthumously given the award in 2002.—Sapa

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