This year marks the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child UNCRC). Home to one-fifth of the world’s children, India ratified the CRC in 1992, embracing standards in health care, education and legal, civil and social services. The UNCRC is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history, and in the 30 years since its adoption, it has helped to transform children’s lives.
Immense progress has been made in Jharkhand. The State has also adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, whose signatories have pledged to ensure inclusive, sustainable development and ensure that “no one will be left behind.”
However, there are many children who have fallen behind. Old challenges have combined with new problems to deprive many children of their rights and the benefits of development. In Jharkhand, more than 60 lakh children live in rural areas with limited opportunities for them to grow, develop and excel.
At UNICEF, we stand committed to the CRC as we work to address malnutrition, end child marriage, ensure quality education, full immunization coverage as well as access to sanitation facilities and safe water.
Together with partners and with the support of the Government of India we have launched the Generation Unlimited partnership in India, where we bring together people/actors from various fields and agencies around the overall goal of ensuing every young person is in some form of school, learning, training or employment/job that is suitable for his or her age so they can reach their goals and be productive citizens. In India, we call this initiative YuWaah which recognises the young people’s power and potential.
UNICEF is working with the Government of India, other UN agencies, civil society organizations, private sector and young people to come up with solutions as well as provide opportunities and platforms to adolescent and young people. We want adolescents and young people to have the tools and be equipped as they move from school to work and childhood to adulthood and achieve your goals.
As we welcome a new decade, only the collective efforts of all sections of society can help build an enabling environment to tackle the multi-pronged challenges children in Jharkhand face today.
Firstly, there is a need to make sure that basic services reach every last boy, girl and family, especially in hard-to-reach areas. Only then can children receive interventions that address anaemia, malnutrition, preventable childhood illnesses, poor sanitation, hygiene and education.
Secondly, influential voices who are committed to child rights can lead a social transformation that protects children from violence and exploitation, and ultimately ends child marriage and labour.
Thirdly, elected representatives, government officials, religious leaders, civil society and the community at large have to work together to create a society sensitive to children’s needs and committed to their well-being.
At UNICEF, the UNCRC is our guiding light as we stay committed to children’s rights to survival, development, protection and participation. It is necessary that we listen to children and learn about their hopes, dreams and aspirations. Only then can we create a present and a future that caters to them.
Children are our hope and inspiration. It is their resilience in the face of incredible odds that inspires us every day. Their creativity helps us see the world in new ways, and to think of new ways to make it better. They must be protected and given opportunities to reach their fullest potential, as they are the future.
In this, it is equally vital that we listen to children. Give them a voice, learn about their hopes, dreams and aspirations. Only then can we create a present and a future that caters to their every need.
We must take the UNCRC to heart as we plan for the coming year and beyond, ensuring that we deliver on our promises, for every child.