Higher proportion of resources must be allocated for Child Rights in Punjab

Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) with the support of Save the Children Pakistan organized a High level Consultation on Increased Budgetary Allocation and Expenditures on Children on Thursday.

Child Rights activists demanded the Federal and Provincial governments to increase resource allocations to improve the status of child rights in Pakistan

Mr. Shuja Qutub Bhatti (DG-CP&WB), said that special measures are required to safeguard the rights of vulnerable children.  There is a need to increase overall spending on child rights especially the percentage of developmental budgets in education, child health and nutrition, and child protection.

He highlighted inadequate spending as a key reason for Pakistan failing on most of the child related indicators of Development Goals. He raised concern that unless adequate budget is allocated for child rights, Pakistan will fail to meet the requirements of Sustainable Development Goals as well. He concluded that all political parties will have to unite and make across the board efforts otherwise Pakistani children will continue to suffer.

Ms. Sajjada Begum (MPA-PTI), added that the federal and provincial government must ensure that budgets for all children related indicators are released in time and are not subjected to random cuts. Budget allocations should also include a higher proportion of non-salaried rather than salaried expenditure and there should be increased focus on development budget in order to overcome the challenges in Pakistan. In addition, all the programming must respond to the damage caused by COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Shah Nawaz Khan (Regional Head, SPO), said that approximately 47% of Pakistan’s total population comprises of children under the age of 18. This population group should be our priority however, due to lack of will from policymakers; these children are deprived of their rights to survival, protection and development.

She mentioned low spending on child rights as a key reason for Pakistan not meeting its international and national commitments towards child rights. She added that National Commission on Child Rights (NCRC) should be made function at earlier to ensure compliance on Pakistan’s international commitments.

Nazeer Ahmad Ghazi (CEO GODH & Senior Child Rights Activist mentioned that major infrastructural reforms are required to uplift the living standard of Pakistan’s children. Whether it’s health and nutrition, hazardous labour, early marriages, trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation; significant reforms are required to ensure that rights of all children are protected and delivered.

Mr. Naeem Ahmad, Program Coordinator, SPARC recalled Pakistan’s Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan’s first speech to the nation in which the PM mentioned about the dire state of children health in Pakistan. He further added the despite such big commitment, we see that there is still no improvement in child health. In budget, there is no special allocation for child health and nutrition.

Mr. Naeem Ahmad further highlighted that Pakistan has not made much progress on its commitment of providing free and quality education to every child according to article 25-A of constitution. He mentioned that according to official statistics, Pakistan has 22.84 million out-of-school children (age 05 to 16) which is the 2nd highest figure in the world. Allocating the salaries of teachers does not equate to working on education. Adequate budget should be allotted to convert primary schools in to middle and secondary schools to curb down the drop-out-ratio of children.

Mr. Waqas Abid (Provincial Coordinator, CRM, Punjab) also spoke on the occasion and said that the initial perception of COVID-19 effecting only elders and people with prior health conditions has long gone. People have realized that children, have been the biggest effectives of this situation. Their access to education, health, nutrition, protection, and mental and physical development, has been dealt a heavy blow. If the policy makers do not consider this reality in resource allocation for child rights, the very survival of our children will be at stake.

Ms, Kanwal Liaquat (MPA, N-League), Miss Irum Fatima from Bedari, DR Naeem from PAHCHAAN, M-Shahid (Deputy Director, Labor Deptt), MIrza Ghulam Hussain (Director, Education), Khalid Meo and the members from Child Rights Club also participated in the Consultation.

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