TBILISI, 20 February 2018. Municipalities from all over Georgia gathered at a two-day forum in Tbilisi to agree on the roles and responsibilities of central and local governments in addressing family vulnerabilities and violence against children.
The meeting was organised by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure and UNICEF in partnership with the European Union. The representatives of the governmental and non-governmental agencies, the Public Defender’s Office and international organizations participated in the forum.
“Municipalities play a crucial role in protecting children from violence, providing support to vulnerable families and children with disabilities”, said Laila O. Gad, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “Municipalities are accountable to provide necessary services and they are also well positioned to monitor how the rights of children and their families are protected. However, it remains a huge challenge for municipalities to offer effective responses based on the needs of children and families. Existing services for children and families are also scarce and not sufficient. Strengthening municipalities is critical for protecting children and families from various vulnerabilities and helping them in becoming active citizens. UNICEF has closely been working with municipalities to develop services for children with disabilities, those victims of violence and to support them in fulfilling their duties. We commit to continue such support in close collaboration with the central Government of Georgia and other partners”, added UNICEF Representative.
The participants of the forum agreed on the crucial role of municipalities in addressing the needs of vulnerable families and discussed steps undertaken by the Government of Georgia to address violence against children and to join the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children.
“The security, well-being and dignity of children and families concern everyone. They are also at the core of the shared values of the EU and Georgia. Our Association Agenda, which is based on those shared values, reiterates the need to broaden and strengthen measures to protect children against all forms of violence. We look forward to continue our cooperation with the Government and municipalities towards this end.” said Mr Vincent Rey, Head of Cooperation of the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia.
Other issues discussed at the forum were the following:
- Steps undertaken by municipalities to introduce internal procedures required by the Child Protection Referral Procedures and to ensure professional capacity to identify, refer and respond to violence against children at the local level;
- Different types inclusive services at the municipal level and existing best practices to protect the rights of children with disabilities and their families;
- On-going social protection programmes and services at municipal and central levels, including the Targeted Social Assistance (TSA) programme, the ways of improving these services and opportunities for developing social assistance schemes at the municipal level for those vulnerable groups that are out-side the TSA programme.
The meeting aimed to contribute to development of the State De-Centralization Strategy and implementation of the National Human Rights Strategy 2014-2020 and its action plan.
Within the framework of the Campaign “See Every Colour”, aimed to reduce stigma against people with disabilities in the society, UNICEF carried out a contest to identify those municipalities, having the best experience and social programs to ensure inclusive environment for children with disabilities (adapted infrastructure, public transport, special programmes and services, innovative approaches and involvement of young people with disabilities and their parents). Four winner municipalities were nominated at the forum and awarded with special prizes to recognize their contribution in protection of children with disabilities and to encourage other municipalities to strengthen their efforts in creating inclusive environment.
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.