(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – Sri Lankan legislators have joined fellow lawmakers from across South Asia to prioritize and safeguard children’s rights in the region, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said on Monday (06).
UNICEF said that despite economic growth and consequent improvements in realizing the rights of children, massive disparities still exist preventing children from living in dignity, reaching their full potential and making choices about their futures.
Sri Lanka, home to 8 million children under 18, has some of the region’s best health indicators, almost universal primary schooling, with nearly 90 percent of the population having access to safe drinking water.
However UNICEF noted that violence against children, including physical abuse in the home remains a concern and while the rate of extreme poverty is declining (By 16 percent between 2002 and 2012) child poverty rates remain higher with pockets of extremely high vulnerability across the nation.
“Even though our indicators are really good, we still have issues like child marriage, school dropouts and migration affecting children,” Parliamentarian Sudarshani Fernandopulle said at the first meeting of The South Asia Parliamentarian Platform for Children.
“Children remain at the heart of a country’s development and future economic growth. We need to invest more in policy reform and budgetary allocation in order to address the remaining disparities that prevent every child, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized, from reaching their full potential,” she added.
UNICEF said the children’s regional meeting was a milestone in bringing together lawmakers from all 8 countries in South Asia to prioritize, promote, and safeguard children’s rights.
It added that it was also an opportunity to plug in the critical role that parliamentarians can play in tackling key development challenges affecting children in the region within the larger framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.
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