NEW DELHI, 6 March 2017 – Over 25 parliamentarians, the Secretary General of SAARC and UNICEF South Asia officials met in Kathmandu last week to launch the first South Asia Parliamentarian Platform for Children, in collaboration with the House of Parliament of Nepal.
During the two day meet, representatives from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan brainstormed on ways to prioritize children and shape the development agenda in the region.
South Asia has recorded massive economic growth over the last decade, which is also reflected in the overall improvement of child rights. It is home to 1.7 billion people of which 621 million are children below 18 years. Yet, massive disparities still exist preventing children from living with dignity and reaching their full potential.
The Kathmandu meeting was an opportunity for Members of Parliament (MP) to share their experiences and learnings, build networks and galvanize support.
Indian MPs, Ms. Vandana Chavan, Mr. Konda Vishweshwar Reddy, Mr. Harish Chandra Meena and Mr. Rahul Kaswan discussed critical issues for children such as preventing Open Defecation, ending child marriage and ways to stop stunting.
“Such platforms will enable us to work together for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals for children. Our work as legislators is to make sure that all children have access to basic services and that no child is left behind," said Ms. Vandana Chavan, MP, NCP, Rajya Sabha.
Rahul Kaswan, MP, BJP underlined the importance of educating the girl child for breaking cycles of poverty. Stressing on the importance of keeping children’s issues at the forefront of policies, Mr. Konda Vishweshwar Reddy, MP, TRS, Lok Sabha emphasized, "We need to realize that children are our first citizens and their issues deserve priority in policies, programmes and funding. This network offers an excellent opportunity to focus on the excluded and marginalized groups."
Concluding the meeting, Jean Gough, UNICEF South Asia Regional Director said, “When parliaments speak on behalf of children their voices resonate. They have the power to create lasting changes for children.” She also informed that the next chapter of the South Asia Parliamentarian Platform for Children will be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, next year.
This regional meeting is a milestone in bringing together lawmakers to prioritize, promote, and safeguard children’s rights