DHAKA, Saturday, 23 November 2019: Bangladesh has made substantial progresses towards securing the rights of children since the country signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1990. At the same time, more needs to be done as a large number of children still do not enjoy the full range of rights in terms of health, nutrition, education and protection from violence, exploitation and abuse. They also face a number of new challenges of the 21st century.
These views were expressed on Saturday when a group of children and adolescents met face-to-face with policymakers; shared their opinions and hopes; raised concerns about the specific issues affecting their wellbeing; and discuss solutions for the problems they faced and progresses toward that on a regular basis.
The CRC@30 Forum was held in Dhaka to observe 30th anniversary of CRC and World Children’s Day. Mr. Fazle Rabbi Miah, Deputy Speaker of the National Parliament and Mr. Shamsul Haque Tuku, MP, President, Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights, attended the event among others.
Before Dhaka, the Government and UNICEF organized eight rounds of divisional forums to facilitate dialogues and engagement with children and young people from 300 electoral constituencies to discuss their views on the status of their own rights and the policies that have direct impact on their current and future lives. The CRC@30 Forum in Dhaka is the last of this series of dialogue.
Stating it as a beginning of direct and systematic inter-generational dialogue between children and lawmakers of their respective constituencies, Tomoo Hozumi, Representative of UNICEF Bangladesh Country Office said: “This initiative gave children an opportunity to discuss their own rights, share their experiences, opinions and recommend actions with policymakers through a series of consultations and development of a youth manifesto.”
Hozumi said it is a great opportunity for both policymakers and children to listen to each other and to co-create solutions to the issues and problems faced.
Participants in the CRC@30 Dhaka Forum were selected from a cross-section of children and young people’s groups based on a set of criteria in view of their diversity. The initiative was expected to serve as a structured platform for the Ministers and Members of Parliament to directly listen to opinions, interests, hopes and concerns of children and young people of their respective constituencies.
Bangladesh has made great strides in promoting child rights over the last three decades. These include: reduction in under-five mortality rate from 151 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 40 in 2019; increase in the percentage of fully vaccinated children from 52 per cent in 1991 to 82 per cent in 2016; reduction in stunting among children under five years of age from 72 per cent in 1993 to 28 per cent in 2019; increase in the use of improved sources of drinking water from 79 per cent in 1990 to 98.5 per cent in 2019; increase in the use of improved sanitation facilities from 9 per cent in 1990 to 85 per cent in 2019; and increasing net primary school attendance ratio from 65 per cent in 1990 to 86 per cent in 2019 among others.
At the same time, there are still issues to be addressed. Today, 4.3 million children aged 6 to 15 years are still out of school. The birth of 44 per cent of children under five years of age are reported not to be registered with a civil authority. More than 4.4 million children under five years of age suffer from stunting. Nine out of every ten children experience physical punishment and/or physiological aggression by caregivers. Over half of all the marriages take place too early before 18 years of age. More than one million youths are unemployed. Further, the lives of over 19 million children are threatened by climate change.
However, the records of Bangladesh in the last three decades amply demonstrate that these remaining and emerging challenges can also be successfully addressed as far as there continues to be political will and determination to do so in the country.
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 for children, visit www.unicef.org.bd