President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said programmes and actions for children have to take centre-stage in national policy-making, adding that there should be commitment to fulfill and protect child rights. Addressing the opening session of the first ever “Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit”, the President said that problems of varying degree afflicts children – from the seemingly less severe like bullying at school to cases of sexual harassment, child marriage and trafficking.
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“The children are also denied education in several parts of the world. They are still suffering from malnutrition and are dying of preventable diseases. According to UNICEF, 80 percent of child deaths occur in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. In regions marred by armed conflicts, violence and insurgencies, children are the most affected. There are many children amongst refugees who face an uncertain future,” he added.
The President said that programmes and actions for children have to take centre-stage in national policy-making.
“We have a shared responsibility to reduce the inequalities that harm the underprivileged children more than any other age group. The path towards an equal future will come through prioritizing. The disparities in education, health and poverty indicators will have to be eliminated. The factors hampering the progress of disadvantaged children will have to be removed,” he added.
“We, indeed, have a moral obligation towards our children; towards their development and security, and in giving them equal opportunity. Let us commit ourselves to the noble task of fulfilment and protection of child rights everywhere. Our children will inherit a world that we would devolve them. It is our responsibility to ensure that such a world is a better place than what we were given,” President Mukherjee said.
Asserting that exploitation of resources and degradation of the environment is posing a serious challenge to sustainable development, President Mukherjee said it is manifested in the ill-effects of climate change.
“Developing economies, which are closely tied to climate-sensitive sectors like agriculture and forestry, are more vulnerable to climate change,” he added.
HH Dalai Lama, HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco, HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, HRH Princess Laurentien of The Netherlands, UNESCO Special Envoy on Literacy for Development and HE Jose Ramos-Horta, Former President of Timore-Leste and Nobel Peace Laureate also addressed the gathering on the occasion.
The two-day summit organised by the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation will deliberate on the way forward in building a strong moral platform for protecting children from violence, and ensuring a world where children are free to be just children.