Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday reaffirmed his government’s commitment to work with national and international development partners and United Nations agencies to establish the rights of every child in the country.
“We have done a lot to improve the condition of our children. However, we still need to do more. We want every child in our country to grow up as a dignified citizen enjoying all their rights,” she said.
Hasina, currently on an official overseas tour to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York, said so in a video message released during a symposium held in Dhaka.
The European Union and UNICEF organized the national symposium on “Child Protection for Every Child: Best Practices in Child Protection in Bangladesh” at a hotel in the city.
The Prime Minister’s daughter and Chairperson of Bangladesh National Committee for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Saima Wazed delivered the keynote address at the event.
Hasina emphasized some measures to further improve the children.
Referring to the measures, she said: “A national social work policy can be formulated; We need to create the necessary child protection workforce; Child protection allowance can be introduced as a regular program; A fund can be set up for the District Child Welfare Council/Upazila; A reintegration and referral mechanism policy should be formulated; and a good parenting training program should be introduced.”
The Prime Minister said that the current government, with the help of UNICEF and other development partners, has put in place various programs to make these children worthy citizens improving their condition.
Father of Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had undertaken unique initiatives for comprehensive development of children during the short tenure of his government, she said.
“Bangladesh was among the first countries to ratify and sign the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child-UNCRC. bring the country into compliance with the provisions of UNCRC,” she added.
Sheikh Hasina said his government is convinced that today’s children are the country’s future assets.
“To make them dignified citizens, we must respect their fundamental rights such as education, nutrition, health insurance, protection, participation, recreation, drinking water, sanitation and hygiene” , she said.
The Prime Minister mentioned that about half of the population of Bangladesh is under the age of 18 and considered children and more than 20 million of them are under the age of 5.
According to the Children Act 1974 framed by Bangabandhu, she said 64 District Child Welfare Councils and 492 Upazila Child Welfare Councils are formed and functioning to take instant action for the welfare and protection of children at the local level, she informed.
She said that community prevention mechanisms are seen as an effective approach to preventing juvenile delinquency and creating a positive environment for children.
“Thus, the government has already strengthened 300 community child protection committees and paved the way for the engagement of community volunteers,” she said.
Noting that juvenile delinquency has recently become a matter of concern in all societies, she said that 70 dedicated probation officers and 189 child protection social workers work for family and community correction of children.
In addition, the government has put in place institutional care arrangements to raise and care for, educate, train and rehabilitate children in distress and street children, she said, adding that poverty is the one of the main obstacles to meeting the needs of children.
“Our government has developed the National Social Security Strategy (NSSS) to establish an inclusive social security system for all deserving citizens. The system effectively tackles and prevents poverty, inequality and contributes to human development, employment and economic growth,” Hasina said.
As part of social safety net programs, she said her government had paid various allowances to 10.7 million people in the country.
“Children are also beneficiaries of these programs. We have made remarkable progress in primary school enrolment. About 98% of school children are enrolled. 23 million students have benefited from various stipend and scholarship programs,” she says.
The infant mortality rate has been reduced to 23.67 per 1,000 and the maternal mortality rate to 173 per 100,000 live births, she said.
“We have set up over 18,000 community clinics and health centers to provide health services mainly to women and children,” she said.
The Prime Minister said he was pleased to introduce another beneficial scheme, namely “Child Protection Allowance”, which is specially targeted at children at risk of early marriage, child labor and out-of-school children.
“Our government has enacted the Disability Rights and Protection Act 2013 for the recognition of equal citizenship, access to education, health and employment, etc. We have created the Neuro-Developmental Disability Protection Trust-NDD and the Protection Trust for People with Disabilities,” she added.
Noting that the country’s Disability Information System-DIS is an exceptional database, she said that it maintains data of 26 lakh 88,701 persons with disabilities which includes the extent and type of disability as well as the individual, family status and assessed need for interventions.
“We appreciate the great dedication and excellent efforts of my beloved daughter Saima Wazed who has made tremendous contributions to the advancement of disability and child development in Bangladesh,” she said.
Hasina said her government introduced Child Helpline-CHL-1098 in 2016. CHL1098 has so far heard the voices of over 0.8 million children and provided services to children and their families.
The Prime Minister said he had also taken steps to make all police stations child-friendly, by establishing a child support office, deploying police officers responsible for children’s affairs and giving directives on inquiry or separate inquiry under the Children Act 2013.
“Previously, child labor was a big problem in Bangladesh. Child labor has been greatly reduced in our country,” she said.
The RMG sector is now completely free of child labour, the Prime Minister has declared.
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