Thursday, January 26, 2017

Building the relations with parliamentarians for children in Kachin: Champions for children’s rights

For the first time ever, UNICEF Myanmar organised a three day workshop with Kachin state Parliament, aiming at strengthening the relationship with the parliamentarians and to advocate for children’s rights. The first part of the workshop focussed on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), specific child rights concerns in Kachin and Parliament’s role as champions for children’s rights. UNICEF’s Child Protection Team then zoomed in on one key concern for children in Kachin - Mine Action Awareness.

“Despite the regular work of the UNICEF team in Kachin with the state government and other local partners, this was the first opportunity to discuss in a comprehensive way children’s rights and the fundamental role that State parliamentarians can have to protect them”, says Alison Rhodes, UNICEF Chief of  advocacy.  “At the same time, this was an important step to strengthen the relationship between UNICEF and Kachin’s parliamentarians, the majority of whom are in this position for the first time in their lives”.  

At the end of the workshop, parliamentarians agreed on the actions they could take as champions for children’s rights including:

  • Assessing the situation of children in their constituencies, and ensuring that the planning and the township profiles data accurately reflects the situation on the ground;
  • Identifying grave violations of children’s rights including trafficking, recruitment in armed groups, and violence;
  • Conducting visits to remote areas in Kachin to report on the situation of children;
  • Assessing the situation of children in IDP camps and calling for more government support for basic services;
  • Holding debates in Parliament on specific child rights issues and calling government officials to Parliament to answer questions;
  • Getting a breakdown of budget allocations to children in Kachin State and debating budgets for children in Parliament;
  • Identifying 2 focal persons from the State Parliament for child rights and sending regular reports to the Women and Child rights Parliamentary Committee in Union Parliament;
  • Using U Report to find out the opinions of youth on specific issues and letting young people know about U Report. 

“We have now successfully piloted the first State level training for Parliament, with a full package of presentations, case studies and group work exercises”, explains Alison Rhodes. “The next step is to establish similar partnerships with other state and region parliaments, starting by organising other workshops throughout the country in early 2017.”