A consolidated report on the situation of vulnerable and excluded children from six states of Northeast India namely, Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh was presented at the 3rd Regional Conference on ‘Children in Difficult Circumstances’ organised by Plan India. Experts from various state institutes, UN bodies and Civil Society Organisations participated in the discussion.
The findings of the state consultation will be part of the National Conference on Children in Difficult Circumstances in November 2016 in New Delhi. The conference will provide a unique opportunity to child rights organisations, development practitioners, researchers and policy makers across India to deliberate on issues relating to the numerous problems faced by children and the commitments via practices, programmes, policies and investment required to address these.
Children in difficult circumstances comprise of children living on the streets and working, children affected by HIV/AIDS, victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking, children of female sex workers and child labourers. Millions of children continue to be denied their basic rights and entitlements such as food, shelter, education, medical care, protection and security owing to their situation.
As per current statistics, 23 million children below the age of six years are malnourished (ICDS Status Report), 19 million children are living and working on the urban streets of India (UNHCHR Report) and 4.3 million children remain still employed as child labourers (2011 Census of India).
Speaking on the occasion Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India, said “As a leading national organisation on child rights, Plan India has been consistently advocating for the survival, protection, development and participation rights of all children, especially the most disadvantaged. The consultation is an effort to recognise the existing gaps in policies and programmes and make concrete action plans to address the issues of children in difficult circumstances”
The consultation was organised by Plan India, a leading NGO working on child development in partnership with Society for Promotion of Youth and Masses. Distinguished delegates included Anita Agnihotri, Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India; Madhu K Garg, Secretary, Social Welfare, Arunachal Pradesh; Hemanata Narzary, Principal Secretary, Social Welfare, Assam; T Dkhar, Commissioner cum Secretary, Meghalaya; Dellirose M. Sakhrie, Secretary, Social Welfare, Nagaland; Chaitany Murti, Special Secretary, Social Welfare, Tripura; S K Devvarman, Secretary, Social Welfare, Manipur; Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India; Rajesh Kumar, Executive Director, SPYM and Gary Reid, Consultant, World Health Organisation.
Rajesh Kumar, Executive Director, SPYM said “Children in difficult circumstances are at great risk of suffering as their basic needs for food, shelter, education, medical care protection are not met. We need to recognise and develop an understanding of the multiple causes and situations leading to increased vulnerabilities and denial of rights of children and seek solutions to address the problem.”
The consultation also reviewed the existing best practices, effectiveness of government policies, legislation and programmes in addressing the rights and entitlements of the most vulnerable children. The participants discussed about multiple causes and situations leading to increased vulnerabilities and denial of rights to children and attempted to find possible solutions to these problems.
Participants acknowledged that promoting knowledge management and collaborative processes, including research are important drivers in influencing policies, practices and investment to improve the lives of children in difficult circumstances.