75 child parliamentarians at a national Children's Parliament. Photo/ANI
75 child parliamentarians at a national Children's Parliament. Photo/ANI

At children's Parliament, 'ministers' pledge to 'leave no child behind'

ANI | Updated: Feb 05, 2020 20:35 IST

New Delhi [India], Feb 5 (ANI): Children from across 29 states and union territories in India were recently sworn in as 'Ministers' at the annual National Inclusive Children's Parliament here.
A total of 75 child parliamentarians of ages 11 and above drawn from the 29 states and UTs committed on Tuesday to create an inclusive India with their formula of "the last child as their first priority" administered by former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar.
The children all belonging to the NINEISMINE" campaign, an advocacy movement led by children, participated in a nine day training workshop that kickstarted with a panel discussion titled 'Children in the Republic' where child-rights experts discussed issues related to laws, schemes, budgets and more all linked to themes of the rights of children.
The Children's Parliament's annual national parliamentary session concluded with the children addressing the press and reviewing the Budget 2020 through a press interaction entitled 'We the Children'.
The young advocates also collated a report which will be submitted to the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) and the United Nations as part of India's Voluntary National Review (VNR) in relation to India's 'Leave no one behind' report on the 17 Global Goals.
The Global goals which are also known as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. India, along with 192 other countries, had committed to the SDG goals in September 2015. Countries submit voluntary national reviews to help UN evaluate the status of a country's adoption strategies to meet the SDG goals.
Apart from the 17 goals that include no poverty, zero hunger, gender equality and others, the children parliamentarians of the NINEISMINE campaign insist that there is an 18th goal which they call "All rights for All children".
Also during their national parliament, child parliamentarians prepared a report on the status of child rights in the country, which will be submitted to the Commission on the Rights of the Child.
To prepare for the report, children from different states shared their stories, challenges and recommendations to their government.
In the report one child advocate, Samarpita (name changed) from Rajasthan shared her experience of being forced to get married at the age of 12. She also appealed to the government to immediately declare her marriage and all child marriages as null and void.
The child advocates also pressed for ending all forms of child labour. An example is that of Swaman and Smita both from Assam who are visually and developmentally impaired respectively who shared their stories for ending all forms of discrimination and making society more inclusive and barrier-free.
Meira Kumar the former Lok Sabha Speaker who was the chief guest of the event shared that she was really moved by the stories of these young citizens.
"I am spellbound by the work of these children. I am happy to be a part of this children's parliament, as it runs so smoothly," said Kumar.
She insisted that the child parliamentarians invite the current Speaker of the lower house of India's Parliament and all the MPs to come and see how smoothly a parliament is meant to function.
Shailab the Program Director at Haq- Centre for Child Rights was among the experts who were present for the session.
"Child participation should be an urgent priority and that NINEISMINE as a child-led movement should work unceasingly towards making it important for both the central and state governments, if not every village panchayat (council) of India," he said.
The NINIEISMINE campaign, of for and by the children of India is convened by PRATYeK but has a large network of NGOs from across the country. Over the years, organising and children's Parliaments across the country. It envisions 100 child parliamentarians from across the country interacting with national Parliamentarians in Parliament by November 2020.
Meanwhile, at the conclusion of the NINEISMINE children's national parliament, the children used sign language to gesture the national anthem as a symbol of their commitment to amplifying the voice of the unheard child of India. (ANI)