Children want their issues included in poll manifestos

Children want political parties to include their issues in poll manifestos

Gandhi Mandap illuminated in blue on World Children’s Day, in Guwahati. Credit: PTI.

Four thousand children from 40 organisations in Assam on Friday released a manifesto listing their problems so that they are included by political parties in their manifestos for the 2021 state elections. The children from 17 districts of the state prepared the document so that their issues are heard by the policy makers, UNICEF-Assam Chief Madhulika Jonathan told reporters here. It was released on the occasion of World Children's Day.

The charter of demands include protection from violence in all forms, access to affordable healthcare and nutritious food, no discrimination based on class, caste, gender, religion or any other ground, and quality and affordable education for all children. Some of the other demands include adequate resources for improving infrastructure and human resources of educational institutions, safe drinking water and proper sanitation for all families across Assam and safe spaces for children to play, prosper and grow.

The charter also demanded respect for rights of differently abled and active measures to ensure that they are provided with adequate rehabilitative and social support in order to live a dignified life. "The global pandemic has laid bare deep inequalities that have left some children far more at risk than others. UNICEF hopes that not only political parties but other bodies and Commissions take cognisance of children's recommendations and use this as a baseline for working upwards", Jonathan said.

The manifesto will be presented to the chief minister, assembly Speaker, and leaders of all major political parties.

Speaking on the occasion, NGO Shishu Sarothi's deputy director Amvalika Senapati said that though children do not have voting rights but they are the future electors and decision-makers, and their opinions and recommendations are important. The preparation of the manifesto was an effort led by an NGO, PratYek, which sensitised the children through a series of online workshops between June and September 2020 on child rights, participation, climate change, sustainable development goals among others. Meanwhile, for the first time Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal's Twitter account was handled by an 18-year-old Vandana Urang, for two hours, as a symbolic gesture to support children's empowerment and participation.

Urang, who hails from Namroop Tea Estate in Dibrugarh district, shared her opinion on #Reimagining Education in Assam in a post-pandemic world.

In another event, Bombay High Court's Justice Ujjal Bhuyan formally operationalised the functioning of the Assam Police Sishu Mitra Resource Centre.

Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said, the police in collaboration with UNICEF and UTSAH Child Rights Organisation initiated a comprehensive Child Friendly Policing Programme, with the aim of enhancing access to justice for children.

The centre will provide technical assistance to Investigating Officers across the state to deal with child- related cases, to ensure timely investigation and child friendly handling of cases as per laws, rules and procedures, he said.

Meanwhile, Guwahati's Gandhi Mandap was lit up in blue, along with many iconic buildings of the country and the world, as a part of #GoBlueCampaign in support of the rights of children and the impact of Covid-19 on their lives.

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