'India playing significant role to ensure meeting of SDG goals for kids' - New Delhi News
by IANS | Updated Dec 17, 2022
She made the remark in an interview while speaking on vhild rights, the current situation in India and other topics.
Here are some of the excerpts from the interview:
Q: As per the National Family Health Survey (2019-21), 23.3 per cent of girls in India marry before the age of 18. What is UNICEF doing to address this?
A: India plays a significant role in ensuring the world is on track to meeting many of the SDGs for children -- ending child marriage being one of the most urgent, and an accelerator for better multidimensional outcomes for girls. I am, therefore, pleased to note that India has made critical progress by halving the numbers between 2005-6 and today.
UNICEF is working in 15 states through effective partnerships with governments, the private sector, civil society organisations, academia, religious influencers as well as communities through interventions that empower adolescents for ending child marriage and other harmful practices and build on progress made in recent years. The adolescent girl is a core priority for UNICEF in India, especially under our new Country Programme for 2023-2027. We believe in the future where all girls are empowered to exercise their rights and make informed choices about their lives, and thus, our work has focused not only on empowering adolescent girls, transforming communities they live in, converging with governments to provide them with better opportunities, among others.
Our work on preventing child marriage spans different types of support -- life skills for adolescents, transforming harmful gender norms, and building capacity to prevent child marriages, but this work is really the sum total of school enrolment for girls, building a robust child protection framework, quality education, empowering families, and gender transformative nutrition, basic services and social protection. Continued investments and attention to this will ensure we are on track to meet the SDG target of ending child marriage by 2030.
Q: How is UNICEF addressing the issues of adolescents and children?
A: UNICEF is supporting the Government of India, and working closely with the private sector, NGOs, communities and youth and children themselves towards learning and skill development of young people, on child protection, and on ensuring all children have equal access to safe and resilient basic services, including healthy diets, health care, water, and sanitation.
We are privileged to support and be witness to some of the biggest government flagship programmes on nutrition, water, protecting and educating the girl child, and others. Our work is aligned to the core priorities and vision of the government and children of India for 2047, particularly the work being led by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development.
On adolescent empowerment, a key multi-stakeholder coalition that we are incubating in India is YuWaah or Generation Unlimited that is working to connect young people with education, learning, training or employment and has reached over 40 million young people in India in three years. We also leverage technology, for instance, U-Report India is a youth engagement mobile platform by UNICEF, which has over 2 million enrolments. It aims to strengthen community-led development and citizen engagement that allows young people to speak out via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct Message and Telegram through polls, quizzes, and resource bots.
Q: What are some key interventions that UNICEF India has undertaken on the issue of child marriage in the country?
A: UNICEF India's key interventions focus on working with government and partners to build a conducive and equitable environment to promote the right of adolescents to delay marriage by engaging communities and key influencers using social behaviour change
(SBC) communication to address gender norms that lead to child marriage. Additionally, we work with systems to deliver critical services to adolescents and to impart adolescents with life skills and career readiness to plan their future pathways. Education and learning are essential interventions, so UNICEF also works with the government to enable children to continue their schooling by linking them to social protection programmes and promoting their participation and civic engagement through various on-ground and online platforms. Under the Global Program to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage (GPECM), we work with UNFPA jointly on these interventions.
Q: The theme of World Children's Day this year is Sports and Gender Inclusion. How are you linking sports with child rights?
A: Both India and UNICEF understand that sports is so much more than a path to medals when it comes to children and adolescents. It is a force multiplier for their physical and mental health and for creating inclusive spaces where children can feel a sense of belonging beyond the barriers of their place of birth, identity, and social circumstances. Sports also help shatter gendered stereotypes and harmful norms by giving girls an avenue to be bold, loud, confident, visible, and see themselves as leaders and team players together with boys.
The playing of sports is child rights in action, whether it is at the national and state levels, or in school, or in children's informal games in their neighbourhoods in villages and cities. It is an arena which policy makers and the development sector can use to amplify important child rights agendas and messages, including dismantling discrimination against girls or children with disabilities, bringing children together across linguistic and other community divides, and even complementing children's education with the soft skills, strategic thinking, and lessons in leadership sports imparts.
And finally, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that India adopted early and champions through its standard setting work for children, recognises the right of every child to rest, leisure and play, making it clear that sport is an avenue for child rights, the right to play is a right in itself.
Q: What is your message for Every child in India in sync with Children's Day?
A: Our message for World Children's Day 2022 reinforces the shared commitment of India and UNICEF, that every child deserves to feel celebrated and has the right to bE included and protected. Every child has the right to be heard. And we can all join hands -- families, the public and private sector, individuals, and children, to support the right of all children to have equal opportunities for a better today, and a brighter tomorrow. In this, we see a big role for sports, both as an instrument of public policy, and a social movement occurring in schools and neighbourhoods.
Additionally, this World Children's Day, we recognise India's transformative generation of almost half a billion children, who through their sheer creative potential and civic voice can shape the development trajectory of the world UNICEF India is proud to join India's children and youth alongside the government of India in marking not only a strong process of children's recovery from the long pandemic that India has led so ably, but also commemorating India's landmark achievements for children, some of which UNICEF has had the privilege of supporting over the last seven decades.
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