|© UNICEF Guyana/2011|
|Signing of a Call to Action by representatives of political parties in Guyana. (Left to right_ Executive Member of The United Force, Roy Vantall, Prime Ministerial Candidate for the People’s Progressive Party Samuel Hinds, representative of A Partnership for National Unity Cheryl Sampson, and Presidential Candidate of the Alliance for Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan.|
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, 29 November 2011— Earlier this month, Guyana’s presidential candidates and four major political parties signed an agreement which pledged their unequivocal support for children, ensuring that their rights are prioritized in policy making and their laws and policies are child-focussed and child-sensitive. They also agreed to promote children’s right to survival, development and protection from harm.
The signing of the commitment took place at a major public forum organized by UNICEF in partnership with the Rights of the Child Commission and in coordination with the Guyana Elections Commission. At the forum each presidential candidate took 15 minutes to articulate the party's position, vision, and plans for the children of Guyana.
A commitment to children
According to the local press, the Alliance For Change Representative, Mr. Kemraj Ramjattan, indicated that once elected to power, his Government would work towards the advancement of the education sector, the removal of corporal punishment and the integration of policies for children.
Prime Ministerial Candidate for the People’s Progressive Party, Mr. Samuel Hinds, cited his Government’s commitment to children over the past 19 years and in this regard indicated that his party would continue the many tangible actions they started while in office- including the legislation and the establishment of the Childcare and Protection Agency.
The forum was organised with a view to making children's issues visible in the agenda of the country's political parties and setting the stage for stronger political will to address children's issues.
UNICEF Representative to Guyana and Suriname Dr. Suleiman Braimoh, stressed that the commitment represents a strong demonstration of political will advance the agenda of children and women. “If you win, and you’re in government, you have a job to do with respect to children and women,” he said. “If you don’t win you still have that commitment and a job to do.”
The Prime Minister of the Children’s Parliament Stefan Farier reminded the political parties of the plight of children. “I stand before you to tell you what children want to see in the new government,” he said. “Too many times we have seen children suffer and some die just because someone did not listen to their hearts. Too many times a dream is crushed just because the adults in charge do not think their ideas are big enough or even encourage them to be creative.”
UNICEF Guyana is planning to support this change in by working with politicians and fostering sustained political visibility around the issue.