Regional Director meets Armenian Parliamentarians
YEREVAN, 4 NOVEMBER – Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States has urged Armenian legislators to use their powers to do more for the protection and welfare of children."There can be no better measure of our worth as leaders than what we do for children. The power and responsibility to protect children is on your shoulders", Maria Calivis said at the launching of the Armenian translation of a joint UNICEF-Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Handbook for Parliamentarians on Child Protection.
Addressing members of the National Assembly of Armenia, Calivis emphasized that although Armenia has made considerable progress in improving legislation and ensuring a protective environment for children, there is still a gap between official rhetoric and practices.
"Ask tough questions and demand answers on what your government is doing to ensure children have access to quality education, health care and other social services. Your role is key in ensuring that adequate attention and budgetary resources are being made available to protect children’s rights."
Expressing her appreciation to UNICEF, Hranoush Hakobyan, chair of the Armenian National Assembly’s commission on science, education, culture and youth affairs and a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, stressed that parliamentarians have to mobilize their efforts to combat child trafficking and exploitation. "We are not aware of the magnitude of the problem, but we know that it exists. It’s our responsibility to find solutions now and to take preventive measures," she added.
The Handbook spells out practical ways in which parliamentarians can make a difference through the adoption and enforcement of legislation, the power of budgetary oversight and the power of parliamentary inquiry.
"The imperative today is to make laws that have been passed so far work for the benefit of children and for that we need to work out strong implementation mechanisms. We need strong commitment on your part that child rights will not remain on paper and that financial plans prepared by the Government will adequately reflect children’s needs," Calivis said.
Calivis voiced hope that with this powerful tool in their hands, Armenian legislators will be able to look at the law-making process through child perspective and contribute to the establishment of a child friendly legal environment in Armenia.
Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative in Armenia, said that UNICEF was ready to work with Armenian legislators and provide data and any other technical assistance that would support their legislative responsibilities in the child rights domain.