Launch of “Profile of Children in Malaysia - The Implementation of Children’s Rights with Equity” - Keynote address by Wivina Belmonte
PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia, 11 December 2013
Selamat pagi and a very good morning to
Datuk Dr. Rahamat Bivi Yusoff, the Director General of the Economic Planning Unit
Members of the Media
Ladies and gentlemen
We are very proud to be launching this publication today – it is the result of two intensive years of research and effort, thanks to EPU.
This publication has two important attributes – it is timely. And it is relevant.
Timely, because it comes – as it does – with discussions taking place around the drafting and formulation of Malaysia's 11th Development Plan.
And it's relevant, because it consolidates publicly available information related to children. By pulling this information together, and analyzing it through a child rights lens – it allows us to assess the situation of children in key areas, like; education, health, standard of living, care and protection.
It allows us to asses the effectiveness of national programmes that contribute to the well-being of children in Malaysia – where we are doing well. And where there are gaps.
Malaysia has much to be proud of, significant improvements on children's wellbeing have been realized over the years. Malaysia can and should be equally proud of its commitment to the idea of 'inclusiveness' – or equity – as we call it in this publication – which is the idea that all children, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or geographic location, should benefit from the improvements that have taken place.
This publication sets us on the right footing.
It demonstrates the effectiveness of national programmes that contribute to the well-being of children in Malaysia and identifies gaps that still exist at sub-national level: between states, between ethnic groups, and in some instances – between boys and girls.
§ Despite the decline in child poverty, children remain disproportionately affected by it, compared to adults. And disparities between states are persistent.
§ Overall reduction in child mortality rates is accompanied by persisting disparities among states and among population (ethnic) groups.
§ Child nutrition improved significantly in the last decade. Yet, improvement in East Malaysia has been slower than in the rest of the country.
§ Nationwide, school enrolment has been kept at sustained high levels but disparities between states are remaining.
So, this statistical profile reflects not just results of past efforts but serves as a baseline to monitor further implementation of children's rights across the country.
We would hope this publication becomes an important reference in future planning for children, especially in preparation for the 11th Malaysia Plan and child-centred programming at state level.
In fact, more broadly, I would urge everyone who works for the advancement of rights of all children to use this publication, as a reference point around which to design your policies and programmes.
§ For Decision makers – to use the consolidated information as reference and design tailored policies and programmes addressing the needs of the neediest children
§ For Researchers – to take the analysis further, to answer the Why question, to deepen the understanding of the situation of children with different backgrounds and the factors that can explain it.
§ For those collecting Data – to enhance data production, analysis, presentation and dissemination..
§ For Child Advocates– to substantiate advocacy messages around the implementation of all rights for all children.
§ For Children and Youth – to empower them with better understanding of their own situation and to rightfully claim their rights
I would like to again thank the Economic Planning Unit of Malaysia for their leadership and support in preparing this publication.
I'd like to end by reminding ourselves of a simple but important fact…publications like these are extremely valuable for their statistics, of course.
But they are especially valuable because every statistic represents the life, and challenges, faced by a child. Every statistic is an urgent call for us to move forward with determination and address what needs to be done with national and state partners to ensure the well-being of every child in this country
…they expect it of us. And we expect it of ourselves.
Terima kasih … Thank you