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Gov’t, UNICEF Listen To Children’s Voices

(KPL) The National Commission for the Advancement of Women, Mothers and Children (NCAWMC) with the support of UNICEF launched on May 7 in Savannakhet a consultation to listen to children’s voices, give them the space they need to articulate their concerns and propose solutions to existing challenges in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The meeting drew over 50 representatives of children aged between 11 and 18 years old from Bolikhamsay, Savannakhet, Khammuan, Saravan, Champassak, Sekong and Attapeu.

The three day meeting will conclude with an exchange with the provincial authorities where children will present progress done in the area of child wellbeing over the last years, key challenges they are facing and will propose solutions to improve their lives.

The outcomes of this meeting and those of the meeting held in Bokeo for northern provinces, and Vientiane for central provinces to be held late this month will be summarized into a report which will be presented at a high-level summit to be organised in November to mark the 30thanniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, one of the world’s most-ratified human rights treaty.

According to the 2015 Census, in the Lao PDR, about 40 per cent of the population is under 18 years of age. They are beneficiaries and targets of current policies, but they are also change makers. Shaped by decisions made today, these children and young people will go on and shape the country’s future in the years to come. Therefore, it is essential to recognise the role that children and young people can and must play as assets and problem solvers while discussing future development goals, said Ms. Chongchith Chantharanonh, Deputy Permanent Secretary, National Commission for the Advancement of Women, Mothers and Children, the Lao PDR.

Children are experts in their own lives and experiences. As stated in Article 12 of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, every child and young person under 18 years of age has the right to participate and have their opinions included in decision-making processes that relate to their lives. Through these consultations, the Lao PDR Government and UNICEF are working collaboratively with children and young people to listen to their views and valuable insight into how their rights can best be promoted, protected and fulfilled.

I am happy to join this consultation and expect to learn many things about the Convention on the Rights of the Child while making new friends. I hope I can acquire skills that will help me further develop in the future, stated Ms Minaly Souliyachan, 15 years old.

It is expected that the discussions over the next three days and in the following workshop in Vientiane will capture children young people’s realities, stories, concerns and ideas to build a better future for every child in the Lao PDR, explained Maria Fernandez, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Lao PDR.

This is part of a series of consultations organised in different parts of the country to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Solutions proposed to overcome existing challenges for children by children will be summarised into the ‘Children and Youth Ideas and Actions for a Better Future’ report to be presented in November at a high-level meeting in Vientiane.

Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on 8 May 1991.

Source: Lao News Agency