Launch of Stolen Childhood Index
On 1st June, Save the Children launched a unique and the first of its kind report exploring the major reasons why childhood comes to an early end. Launched to coincide with the International Children’s Day the Stolen Childhoods report has found that at least 700 million children have had their childhoods brought to an early end.
Save the Children’s Stolen Childhoods report ranks Nepal 135th, just ahead of Pakistan (142) and Afghanistan (152) but behind India (116) and Bhutan (93). Norway and Slovenia topped the index, followed by Finland, with Niger ranking last.
In Nepal, the report was launched in Nepalgunj in the presence of the District Administration Chief, representatives of civil society, members of children’s network and district representatives of various government departments. The report was made public by the Chief District Officer, Banke who is also the guardian of children in the district.
The event kick started by describing the indicators used to measure the enders of childhood which are: under – 5 mortality, malnutrition that stunts growth, out of school children, child labor, early marriage, adolescent births, and displacement by conflict and child homicide. In the context of Nepal, child marriage which is one of the key factor that affects childhood was highlighted during the event.
The District President of the child network, Shweta said, “Laws and policies against child marriage should be strictly implemented and brought into action to bring change and that just talk and rhetoric would yield no change for children.”
District Vice-President of the Child Club Network, Banke, Sahil said, “Child marriage is an issue that is not discussed much in schools, even in books there is only a short definition of it. He argued that in the changing political context where authority was being decentralised, local government structures should ensure that a chapter on child marriage is included in school curriculum with detailed information on its causal factors, consequences and ways to stop child marriage to help children be aware about it.”
During the event the participants also gave key suggestions in an open floor discussion summarised below:
· Political commitment is crucial. Political parties should make commitments to address social issues, including child marriage. Specifically, they should mention their agenda of stopping child marriage in their election manifesto, and should take actions accordingly. Representative, National Human Rights Commission.
· It can be a really good idea to empower religious leaders and mobilize them to stop child marriage. Representative, NGO Federation.
Towards the end of the event key stakeholders also shared their opinions:
Chairperson, Federation of Nepali Journalists, Banke
There is growing awareness about child marriage. However, the problem lies in the lack of implementation of programs and policies in practice. Therefore, the civil society, including media should engage in advocacy to make sure that District Coordination Committee take active roles in implementing policies to stop child marriage.
Superintendent of Police, District Police Office, Banke
We also coordinate with child clubs to stop child marriage. In the year 2016, we stopped 17 child marriages in Banke. We are always committed to stop child marriage.
Chief District Officer, Banke
We have five years strategic planning to address child marriage in Banke District. We also do monitoring on a regular basis for making all the authorized bodies and civil society be more responsible and accountable.
Political commitments could be crucial to make immense progress in stopping child marriage.
The report was very informative and educational. We have been reminded of our responsibilities again to stop child marriage and child labour. Though the report has ranked Nepal to be in 135 position in terms of status of childhood, a progress can be made to ensure that every last child in Nepal enjoys their childhood.
Each of the key stakeholders committed to putting an end to child marriage and work collectively to ensure every last child in Nepal are able to enjoy their childhood.