UNICEF Jharkhand hosted a discussion with MLAs on creating “Child-Friendly Constituencies" today at the Conference Hall of the Legislative Assembly of Jharkhand. Shri Rabindra NathMahto, Hon’ble Speaker, Jharkhand Legislative Assembly; Shri Alamgir Alam, Hon’ble Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Panchayati Raj; Joba Majhi, Hon’ble Minister of Women, Child Development and Social Security & 23Hon’ble Members of Legislative Assembly - Irfan Ansari, Kumar Jaimangal, Samri Lal, Biranchi Narayan, Vinod Kumar Singh, Sanjiv Sardar, Samir Mohanty, Ramchandra Singh, Amit Kumar Mandal, Kedar Hazra, Uma Shankar Akela, Sarfraz Ahmed, Dipika Pandey, Purnima Niraj Singh, Aparna Sen Gupta, Pradeep Yadav, Rajesh Kachhap, Naman Bixal Kongari, Lambodar Mahato, Pushpa Devi, SabitaMahto, Narayan Das & Sona Ram Sinku; along with Dr Kaninika Mitra, Chief, UNICEF Jharkhand; Ms Astha Alang,Communication Specialist, UNICEF Jharkhand;  Mr. Onkar Nath Tripathi, Social Policy Specialist, UNICEF Jharkhand, Mr Kumar Premchand, WASH Specialist, UNICEF Jharkhand, Ms Laxmi Saxena, WASH officer, UNICEF and other UNICEF’s officials; Ms Lizamma George, Mr Naveen Gupta & UNICEF consultant Shiwani Shrivastwa attended this workshop.

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The roundtable conference was convened to discuss with legislators and build consensus around creating Child-Friendly Constituencies in Jharkhand with the goal of ensuring basic rights for all children and providing them with an equal opportunity to access all services, regardless of their origin, religion, income, gender, or disability.

During his Keynote Address, Shri Rabindra Nath Mahto, Hon’ble Speaker of Jharkhand Legislative Assembly applauded this initiative and said, “There is a need to make the Constituencies child friendly and this initiative is a welcome step in that direction.  Children’s healthy development is critical not only for them to excel and thrive in their lives, but also for society's overall well-being. We must ensure that laws, policies, and services are child-friendly and reflect the best interest of the child. We also need to empower children and youth to participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives, respect their opinions and give them the opportunity to initiate ideas.”

In his Special Address, Shri Alamgir Alam, Hon’ble Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Panchayati Raj said, “Gram Sabha and Bal Sabha play the most important role in envisioning a child-friendly constituency in which children can identify and express their needs. The Gram Sabha must take prompt action to ensure that the issues raised by the children are resolved.”

Speaking on the occasion, Joba Majhi, Hon’ble Minister of Women, Child Development and Social Security said, “The future of the state and the country can be ensured only by the development of the children. Therefore, it is our responsibility to provide a suitable platform for the children of the state to participate. Through this platform, children will be able to identify their problems and discuss them among themselves.”

Highlighting the importance of Child-Friendly Constituencies, Dr. Kaninika Mitra, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Jharkhand said, “Child-Friendly Constituencies guarantee the right of every young citizen to influence decisions about their constituency; express their opinion; participate actively in family, community, and social life; and receive basic services such as health care, education, and shelter. This initiative is a useful lens through which children can learn about civic participation and global citizenship. Just like men, women and the elderly, children too are an intrinsic part of society, and their needs and rights should be given equal priority.”

She further emphasised the role of legislators in creating Child-Friendly Constituencies and said, “Legislators can play an important role in establishing Child-Friendly Constituencies by ensuring children’s participation, and by developing and implementing a constituency-wide children's rights strategy. They can also monitor and ensure that villages in their constituencies hold Bal/Balika Sabhas and that children are aware of their role in the Bal Sabhas.”

Tracing the roots of the Child-Friendly Constituencyinitiative, Ms Astha Alang, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Jharkhand said, “The Child-Friendly Cities initiative was developed decades ago under the direction of UNICEF and has been applied in many cities around the world since the 1990s. This process supports the rights of the child and promotes the Convention on the Rights of the Child at the local level, where it has the greatest impact on children’s lives. Panchayats can be made child-friendly by establishing Bal Panchayats, which can make children's needs and demands more assertive at the local level.”

Mr. Onkar Nath Tripathi, Social Policy Specialist at UNICEF Jharkhand, briefed legislators through a presentation on how to create Child-Friendly Constituencies in Jharkhand.

Simran Padeya and Krish Banra, two Bal Panchayat representatives from Chaibasa, were also present at the conference and shared their experiences.

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