December 20, 2016

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International organisations call on 2015 election winners to prioritise children

Historic general election in Myanmar presents an opportunity for new leaders to commit to improving of lives of children, the UNICEF and the Save the Children say. Photo: Credit to UNICEF Myanmar
Historic general election in Myanmar presents an opportunity for new leaders to commit to improving of lives of children, the UNICEF and the Save the Children say. Photo: Credit to UNICEF Myanmar

TWO leading children’s organisations have called on Myanmar’s future leaders and lawmakers to prioritise children’s health and welfare if elected during the November 8 polls.
In a joint press release issued yesterday, UNICEF and the Save the Children suggested a series of policy reforms that they claim would drastically improve the lives of Myanmar children and their families.
The two organisations recommend that current budget allocations for education, health and social welfare be increased from nine percent to 15 percent.
They also called for the consolidation of the recently-established framework for the Social Protection Strategic Plan and the National Education Sector Plan, the finalisation of the draft Child Law, to implement a series of specific measures for children in their first 1,000 days of life and to ensure free and compulsory education.
The organisations stressed the need to ensure 100 percent birth registration by 2017, the reduction of the under-five mortality and malnutrition rates by 50 percent by 2020 and reducing school drop-out rates for those above the age of 10 by 70 percent.
“This election is a time to inspire the future leaders to become champions for children in the new Union Parliament,” said Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF’s representative to Myanmar.
“Our mission doesn’t end after the elections. We are committed to keep working with elected candidates so that they keep their promises to children.”
According to a press release issued yesterday, the two child-focused agencies spearheaded a campaign to put children at the heart of policymaking in the months leading to the election, engaging with more than 80 political parties.
Thirty-seven parties have prioritised children in their electoral manifestos and campaigns, states the press release.
“From our experience on the ground, we know that children are eager to learn and want to break free of the poverty cycle,” said Kelly Stevenson, country director for Save the Children.
“In Myanmar, 1.6 million children, or 20 percent of children aged between 10 and 18 are working. Some are exploited with low wages or being forced to work in hazardous conditions. These vulnerable children are also at risk of recruitment into the armed forces and trafficking,” she said.
The two organisations stressed that the historic general election in Myanmar presents an opportunity for new leaders to commit to children, stated the joint press release.—GNLM Staff

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