Children’s agenda to political parties in Assam

Two adolescent girls handing over a copy of children's agenda to Dilip Saikia, general secretary of Assam unit of BJP, on Monday in Guwahati. Photo by Chiranjeeb Kakoty.

They may still be in school but children are just as worried about high maternal mortality rate, infant deaths, malnutrition, trafficking and poor healthcare in Assam.

They are also aware that if these issues find a place in election manifestos of the major political parties, things can change for the better.

With the Lok Sabha elections just weeks away, a group of teenage girls on Monday met leaders of the BJP, Congress, AIUDF and AGP here and handed over copies of the "children's agenda" that they had prepared, listing the issues of concern.

A copy of the agenda was also sent to the Bodoland People's Front, an ally of the BJP-led Assam government.

The agenda was prepared by more than 500 children and adolescents under the guidance of Unicef, Assam and the Adolescent and Children Rights Network, Assam (ACRNA), a forum of 21 NGOs working for children in the state.

The agenda focuses on health; nutrition; water; sanitation and hygiene; and education and protection of children, mainly those vulnerable to trafficking, sexual abuse and neglect.

The need for better facilities for pregnant women, child delivery by experienced persons, 24-hour ambulance service were among the top demands.

"All newborn babies must be provided birth registration certificate without any hassle, full vaccination, regular immunisation, proper monitoring of all healthcare institutions, steps to check black marketing of medicines and fake medical practitioners, and child care institutions," said the agenda.

Co-ordinator of ACRNA, Chiranjeeb Kakoty, said the children requested the leaders to include the concerns in their respective manifestos for the Lok Sabha elections and take steps accordingly.

"All the parties appreciated the children's concerns and we just hope the issues get desired attention," he said.

Assam has the highest maternal mortality rate (300 per one lakh birth) in the country; more than 1.06 lakh children do not have access to school education; trafficking of adolescents and children is high; rates of child labour and sexual abuse are high, among other issues.

The document stressed on the construction of disaster-resilient structures for schools, hostel-like accommodations with education facilities for shelter during floods, provision for extra classes for weak students, regular monitoring and inspection of schools, attention to check drop-out rates among others.

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Children’s agenda to political parties in Assam

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