How old are children supposed to be to have enough ability to decide for their own living, to take part in the social affairs and to voice their opinions? According to the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child, every child is entitled to enjoy the basic freedom and all the rights that are endowed with human beings, including survival rights, protection rights, development rights and participation rights. The participation rights mean that children can express their own viewpoints, freely develop their own thinking and beliefs, take part in associations and peaceful assembly, and receive a variety of appropriate information.
In Bangladesh, due to the ignorance of child rights and the sociocultural restrictions on child development, many poor children and teenagers are deprived of education and under the influence of child marriage, child labour and domestic violence. Starting from 2014, CEDAR’s partner in Bangladesh – SATHI has carried out a three-year phase children development project in one of the slums in Dhaka. They set up Youth Groups in the community to help teenagers understand their entitled rights and encourage them to elect a representative to participate in the regional people’s institution to express their views on everyday issues and social affairs.
A child in the group who is deprived of education indicate that even though he has never received any education and does not know how to read and write, the other group members have not looked down on him. They even learn together and promote child rights and the importance of education. He said, ‘This learning has broaden my horizon and brought a ray of hope to my life.’ Although he still needs to help people repair bicycles to make a living, the learning and encouragement in the group has reignited his vision to fight for the right to education and to build a better future. This is also the reason why his mother encouraged him to join the group in the beginning.
Apart from raising youths’ awareness and encouraging them to realize their rights, SATHI also forms Parent Groups to help them understand child rights and the negative impact of child marriage, child labour and domestic violence on child development. Our partner motivates the Parent Groups and community groups to set up a Child Care Fund to strengthen community support for the vulnerable children.
The theme of the International Youth Day (12 August) this year is “Youth Civic Engagement”. In order to realize the sustainable development of human beings, the participation of the youth is necessary. It is hoped that every government and organization can support the youth in different regions to have opportunities to participate in politics, economy and social life to create a future where the Earth is protected and where everybody can live with dignity.
- Thankful for the last year that our partner SATHI has set up 25 Youth Groups and 24 Parent Groups in target areas, raising communities’ awareness towards child rights; community groups have organized 3 large events promoting the awareness of women and child rights in the slums.
- Thankful that through different events, SATHI staff and project site’s community group members witnessed the positive effect that the youth has brought to the community. We pray that children and teenagers can receive more attention and recognition through the participation in the community development.
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