Parliamentarians from across Europe and Central Asia pledge stronger investment in children and youth
GENEVA, 15 December 2021 – UNICEF organized yesterday a high-level consultation with parliamentarians from across Europe and Central Asia to promote and protect the rights of children and young people in the region.
In Europe and Central Asia, an additional 3.2 million children will be among the estimated 6.4 million people who will join the 22 million children and their families living below the national poverty lines. The most affected children are those with disabilities, in institutional care, refugee and migrant, and from minority communities.
“The impact of COVID-19 is not equally distributed: it has been and will be the most severe and long-lasting for children who were already in a situation of vulnerability. School closures, in particular, have widened the gap in access to quality education, leaving many children without the means or the institutional support to benefit from digital learning. Addressing these issues and ensuring that COVID-19 response measures take children’s needs into account requires our urgent collective efforts,” said Ms Afshan Khan, Regional Director for UNICEF Europe and Central Asia.
The Regional Consultation of Parliamentarians event drew about 110 participants representing national parliaments, international and regional parliamentary organizations from across Europe and Central Asia. The virtual meeting focused on the urgent needs of children and young people in the region, and the critical role parliamentarians can play in tackling key development challenges impacting their lives. The meeting engaged lawmakers and stakeholders to identify collaboration, progress, and new opportunities around legislation, budgeting and public finance for children, advocacy, partnerships, and youth engagement.
“The main mandate of the Parliamentary Representative for Children is to react on cases when the government bodies or officials neglect the child rigts or violate them. UNICEF in Ukraine is a consistent and reliable partner to monitor how children’s rights are being fillfilled across the country. Thanks to this cooperation, we managed to streghthen the capacity of the Ombudsman’s Office, as well as to jointly monitor the alternative care facilities in 2018-2020. This year, we joined efforts with UNICEF to monitor child rights within the ongoing administrative and territorial reform, as well as because of COVID-19 adverse impacts on children in Ukraine”, said Aksana Filipishina, Representative of the Parliamentary Ombudsman for children in Ukraine.
“A parliament as a legislative body should be a bridge to join all stakeholders on topics of child rights. As our experience shows, the most successful initiatives come out when we are working together with international organizations, local communities, executive bodies, media and civil society. Exactly the same approach was used, while the law initiatives on the national baby-box and fight against the cyber bullying were developed. I am sure, we will continue to work closely together with partners for every child in Ukraine have better and brighter future”, highlighted Yevhenia Kravchuk, member of the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on children and families in Ukraine, Deputy Head of the Parliamentary Fraction.
As a follow-up, UNICEF will establish a regional parliamentarian platform for the legislators to share experiences, exchange knowledge, and inform and accelerate meaningful policy change and concrete solutions towards realizing the rights of children.
“We can bring hope to our children, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized, through social cohesion and inclusion,” said Mr Philippe Cori, Deputy Regional Director, UNICEF Europe and Central Asia, who concluded the meeting by assuring UNICEF’s continued support to the parliamentarians in advancing child rights in the region.
The meeting ended with parliamentarians from 22 countries reaffirming their countries’ commitment to children’s rights by supporting the declaration of intent to build a safer and better future for every child across Europe and Central Asia.
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 https://www.unicef.org/eca/.