UNICEF & MoPR Sign Visionary Joint Statement of Understanding: Child Participation at Local Governance
New Delhi 14 April 2022: Commemorating the 75th year of India’s Independence- Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav and celebrating the iconic week program, Mr. Yaumasa Kimura, UNICEF India Representative a.i, and Mr. Sunil Kumar, Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR), signed a visionary Joint Statement of Understanding, reiterating their commitment towards the realization of the rights of youth and children in India.
One-third of India’s population comprises children – and the country has a demographic dividend with adolescents and young people constituting 22 percent of the population. In line with the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the partnership aims to include the voices of youth and children in the Gram Sabhas through the provision of Bal/ Balika (Children) Sabhas. The Bal Sabhas will identify children’s priorities and integrate these into the Gram Panchayat Development Plans. This is to ensure that policies, social protection schemes, and programs are inclusive and relevant to the needs and aspirations of children and adolescents.
The partnership is guided by Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child for providing the right platform for every child to freely express their views.
Launching the partnership, Mr. Sunil Kumar, Secretary MoPR said, “We all need to come together, not just the Central and state governments but the domain experts, academic institutions, IGOs/ NGOs, and the Panchayats in a Whole of Society approach. UNICEF’s presence here today is an acknowledgment on the need for convergence, collaboration, and commitment to localisation of SDGs. We thank them for the support.”
Mr. Yasumasa Kimura, Representative a.i., UNICEF India said, “The UNICEF-MoPR partnership will ensure that children and young people’s voices are an integral part of the decision-making processes of the Gram Panchayat. Boys and girls will be engaged in the policies and development plans, impacting their lives. We are confident that this model will bring children’s aspirations on nutrition, health, learning, engagement, and protection, to the core of the village agenda.”
“UNICEF is proud to partner and provide technical collaboration under this partnership with the MoPR, to strengthen outcomes for children across all social sectors,” he added.
The Bal/Balika Panchayats will be pivotal in driving better SDG outcomes for children for programs focusing on child survival, child protection, child development and child participation through a decentralized and participatory approach. During the event, UNICEF in partnership with MoPR released a document on Child Friendly Local Governance- Documenting Best Practices from India. An interactive session was also organized with young children, to listen to, and integrate the views of children on establishing a child-friendly village.