Wednesday December 06, 2023

Measures stressed for welfare of children

By Our Correspondent
November 21, 2023
Children attend an outdoor event celebrating World Childrens Day at the Haranbush camp in Syria. — AFP/File
Children attend an outdoor event celebrating World Children's Day at the Haranbush camp in Syria. — AFP/File

LAHORE:A seminar was organised in connection with World Children’s Day at a local hotel here on Monday.

Addressing the seminar, the experts said that concrete administrative actions are needed to mainstreaming participation of children in decision-making processes. Consistent actions are needed at various levels from home to the parliament for the welfare of children and protection of their rights.

The seminar was arranged by the Search for Justice and Children Advocacy Network-CAN Pakistan with the collaboration of Kindernothilfe, Human Appeal Pakistan, National Commission for Human Rights and Child Protection & Welfare Bureau Punjab.

Punjab National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) representative Nadeem Ashraf expressed his full agreement with the panelists' call for decisive steps to ensure children's rights to participate in discussions affecting them. He stressed that children, as bearers of rights, need supportive actions from adults to guarantee that their perspectives are integrated into decision-making processes.

Ashraf also pointed out the necessity for a unified approach among various stakeholders. He advocated for enhanced collaboration between government departments, NGOs, and independent experts to improve the efficacy of child protection measures, underscoring the importance of a coordinated response to address the needs and rights of children.

Child Protection & Welfare Bureau (CPWB) Chairperson Sarah Ahmad acknowledged the significant role of Search for Justice in spearheading actions for child protection. She announced that the child protection policy has been developed and is awaiting approval from the relevant authorities.

Iftikhar Mubarik from Search for Justice lauded the parliamentary progress in enacting legislation focused on child protection in recent years. Despite this achievement, he emphasised the urgent need for effective administrative measures to ensure these laws are fully implemented in their intended spirit. Mubarik appealed the Punjab cabinet to endorse the child protection policy, which is essential in establishing strategic directions for the provincial government. This policy would be a key element in striving to eliminate all forms of violence, abuse, and exploitation against children by 2030. He underscored the critical need for both legislative framework and practical application in protecting children’s rights. Rashida Qureshi from Children Advocacy Network-CAN Pakistan urged government of the Punjab to develop such strategies and guidelines which could serve as strategic document for the government to make sure the meaningful participation of children in all matters affecting them. Encouraging children, especially girls, to participate actively in their communities cultivates leadership qualities alongside confidence and responsibility, she added.

She further said that such engagement empowers them to voice their opinions boldly and make informed decisions, shaping them into proactive leaders and responsible citizens.

Climate Action Now representative Abeeha Batool emphasised the crucial role of children, adolescents, and young people in formulating a comprehensive provincial climate policy. He highlighted the urgency of individual and governmental actions to ensure the younger generation's fundamental right to clean air.

Sehar Bano, a beneficiary of Search for Justice's landmark youth economic empowerment programme, shared her transformative story. She noted that the lack of local vocational and training facilities contributed to early marriages, domestic violence and family inequalities. She suggested that government should design small-scale, community-specific interventions for illiterate or semi-literate individuals, who often don't meet the criteria for government vocational institutes.

Similarly, another beneficiary from Aminah Centre, a boon to Shahdara's local communities, emphasised the need for community-based child protection programmes to educate parents and caregivers on ensuring children's safety and well-being. This centre, provides marginalized children with non-formal education, basic health care, psycho-social support, and equips young girls with vocational training and startup support.