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Children’s Opinion Poll 2013 calls for proactive role from political aspirants and leaders to realise child rights

DHAKA, Saturday, 6 December 2013: Almost 62 per cent of children who took part in a recent Opinion Poll think that child rights are overlooked by political aspirants and leaders as children do not vote. In Bangladesh, more than 90 per cent children are aware of their rights.
Overall, 70 per cent of urban and rural children mentioned that the rights of rural and poor children are overlooked by political aspirants and leaders. According to these children, they feel that they are discriminated against by older children. The survey also reveals several dimensions of discrimination against children including: right to food, right to education, right to health, right to work and right to freedom of opinion. These discriminations are generally practiced at home by siblings, spouses, and parents.

The Children’s Opinion Poll 2013: Children’s Views and Expectations from Political Aspirants and Leaders in Bangladesh, was conducted by UNICEF under a joint project with the Ministry of Information with support from Save the Children, ActionAid, Plan International, World Vision, Child Rights Governance Assembly and the National Children’s Task Force.

“Children constitute 40 per cent of the total population of Bangladesh, but their voices are often never heard or are neglected,” says UNICEF Representative Pascal Villeneuve. “This Opinion Poll was conducted to bring the voices of children in the forefront and to encourage the inclusion of a ‘Children's Contract' or children's agenda in election manifestos. We believe that the findings of the Opinion Poll will promote the formulation and implementation of child sensitive policies in Bangladesh.”

The Opinion Poll was conducted for two months (July to August 2013) through self-administered questionnaires covering randomly selected sub-districts under seven divisions with a sample size of 4,200 children (equally divided into urban and rural areas, and boys and girls) who were selected following a random sampling method. A total of 333 children completed an online survey which was open for one month.

A large majority of urban and rural children said that they are not getting adequate healthcare services while 84 per cent of children opined that their families could not afford it. Children of geographically isolated areas, including tea gardens and hard-to-reach areas such as haor, coastal areas and the Chittagong Hill Tracts also referred to the unavailability and inaccessibility of healthcare facilities.

Children expect that political leaders and aspirants should ensure free healthcare services for all children. Other responses included providing male and female doctors for male and female children, arranging counseling services for children in health facilities, ensuring child-friendly behaviour by service providers, free medicine, and weekly medical visits to schools.

In respect to education, children expect that political aspirants and leaders should play a proactive role to ensure quality education, establish more schools in remote areas, develop school infrastructure, recruit better qualified teachers, stop corporal punishment, ensure stipend and free education for children.

On corporal punishment, 81 per cent of children opined that teacher’s accountability must be ensured to stop corporal punishment and 77 per cent of both urban and rural children said that enforcement of the law would be useful to stop corporal punishment in school.

As for ensuring entertainment for children, 83 per cent mentioned building playgrounds in communities, 73 per cent stated the need for cultural organizations in the community, followed by having parks, establishing sports facilities, building libraries, and zoos.

A large majority of children felt insecure during hartals (general strikes), as they cannot leave their house due to security reasons. Seventy one per cent of children complained that hartals disrupt their schooling.

In response to the question on whether they would join politics in future, 74 per cent of urban children and 65 per cent of rural children opined that they do not want to get involved in politics. The percentage of girls who expressed their reluctance to join politics in future was higher in urban areas than in rural areas.

Among the respondents, in response to the question of why they did not want to take part in politics, 84 per cent said that they do not like politics because they felt politics is associated with corruption and violence.

The full report is available on www.unicef.org.bd with the main findings attached with this press release.

Notes for the Editor:

The Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC) Article 12, together with the other key civil rights clauses such as Article 13 (freedom of expression) and Article 15 (freedom of association), Article 16 (rights to privacy), Article 17(access to information), provide for ‘participation' of children; which is defined as an ongoing process of children's expression and active involvement in decision-making at different levels in matters that concern them.

UNICEF Bangladesh and partners undertook this opinion poll to help make children's voice audible to political aspirants/leaders including parliament members, local government candidates (Union Parishad) as well as political parties.

For further information, please contact:

· Arifa S. Sharmin, Communication Manager, Communication, Advocacy & Partnership Section, UNICEF Bangladesh, Tel: +880-2 885 2266 Ext. 7021, Email:assharmin@unicef.org

· Shima Islam, Chief, Communication, Advocacy & Partnership Section, UNICEF Bangladesh; Tel: +880-2 885 2266 Ext. 7020, Email: ssislam@unicef.org

About UNICEF
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

About Save the Children
We work together, with our partners, to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.
We have been working in Bangladesh since 1970 and today reach over 10 million people each year. With a staff 800 and network of more than 100 partners, Save the Children is one of the largest child-rights organisations in Bangladesh. For more information; www.savethechildren.net

About Plan International
Founded 75 years ago, Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world. We work in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas to promote child rights and lift millions of children out of poverty. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.

About ActionAid Bangladesh
ActionAid is a global movement of people working together to further human rights for all and defeat poverty. We believe every individual has the power within them to create change for themselves, their families and communities. ActionAid is a catalyst for that change. ActionAid works in over 45 countries with over 15 million people worldwide. We have a ‘bottom up approach to decision-making, and uniquely, our head office is located in Africa. We have hubs in Asia, The Americas and Europe too.
We have been working in Bangladesh since 1983, reaching out to thousands of communities and millions of people, particularly women, children and other excluded and marginalized groups. With a human rights based approach, we work with more than sixty partners, networks, alliances and movements and more than thousands of people’s organizations for challenging poverty and injustice.

 

 

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