Unicef-RSPN project focuses on reducing child marriages;
to be implemented in Ghotki, Khairpur districts for three years
Aiming to reduce child marriages, especially among adolescent girls, the Unicef and the Rural Support Programme Network (RSPN) on Tuesday jointly launched the ‘Improving Adolescent Lives in South Asia’ programme.
An intervention funded by the IKEA Foundation, the project would initially be implemented in a number of union councils of districts Ghotki and Khairpur for a period of three years.
The project also envisages improving access to information and equipping adolescents with life skills as key interventions to strengthen adolescents’ capacity to form and express opinions with confidence; thereby promoting and protecting the right of a child to participation and freedom of expression.
In addition, parents and communities will also be capacitated to understand adolescents’ rights and support their realization through enhanced access to community-based structures equipped with strengthening a protective environment for children.
The United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) recently published a general comment on ‘Realising the Rights of Adolescents’. The committee highlighted that adolescence is a life stage characterised by growing opportunities, capacities, aspirations, energy and creativity, but also increases vulnerability significantly.
It observed that the potential of adolescents is widely compromised because states parties do not recognize or invest in measures needed for them to enjoy their rights neither do they provide guidance to states on those measures.
Ensuring realisation of a child’s rights during adolescence has also been made a part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In line with the committee’s recommendations, Unicef is confident that the intervention would provide avenues at both family and community levels for adolescents to hold dialogues on important matters affecting their lives.
The project would also continue to advocate for initiatives, such as these, to be scaled-up by key government stakeholders in the years to come.
“This is a significant day for the agenda of adolescents in the province,” said Angela Kearney, Unicef’s country representative in Pakistan.
“Adolescence is a unique defining stage of human development characterised by rapid brain development and physical growth, enhanced cognitive ability, the onset of puberty and newly emerging abilities, strengths and skills,” she added.
Angela explained that positive early childhood interventions and experiences facilitate optimal development as young children reach adolescence, but adolescents should also receive adequate attention so as their full potential to not be wasted.
Not only globally, Unicef in Pakistan as well is dedicating attention on programmes for adolescents, because children in the second decade of life are agents of change and a key asset and resource, who can positively contribute to their families, communities and the country, she further stated.
The event was presided over by Additional Deputy Commissioner Khairpur, Riaz Wassan, ADC Ghotki, Saleem Ullah Odho, was also present; the vote of thanks of delivered by RSPN member board of directors, Fazlullah Qureshi.
Approximately 30 boys and girls from different youth associations in Ghotki and Khairpur participated in the event and expressed their commitment to act as champions of change, promoting peer-to-peer dialogue and mentoring youth on key life skills and rights. Challenges faced by adolescents were highlighted through art, songs and theatre performances.
The event was also attended by officials from the social welfare, youth, health, local government, education, planning and development, police departments, whereas commissioner for child rights for the provincial ombudsman’s office, district administrators from Khairpur and Ghotki districts besides a number of civil society organizations’ officials were also present.