Advocates to push hluttaw for more spending on children
THE Ministry of Social Welfare is eyeing a special fund for children, with a request set to go before the hluttaw as budgets for the 2017-18 financial year go up for assessment.
Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement secretary Daw Naw Hla Hla Soe, who is also a member of the Amyotha Hluttaw’s Women’s and Children’s Rights Committee, confirmed the plan at a November 20 conference.
“The most [realistic] and logical thing is a budget for improving services for children. We will request it of MPs … We have to get funds for improvements instead of cutting the budget,” she told a national-level conference in Nay Pyi Taw.
“The ministry will submit its budget, which we will scrutinise based on whether [it makes adequate provisions] for children or not. We will not stand for cuts to children’s programs’ budgets,” she said.
Youth representatives from Myanmar’s 14 states and regions descended on Nay Pyi Taw for the November 20 summit, with MPs, civil society and international nongovernmental organisations’ representatives hearing the grievances of young people around the country.
The five key issues raised repeatedly by child delegates were education for migrant children; anti-narcotics support and education; the need for peace in conflict-afflicted areas; access to basic healthcare for those in rural areas; and the need to develop a pragmatic approach to dealing with the problem of sexual exploitation and trafficking.
The issue of documentation was also a hot topic.
“The children who have no birth certificate yet and were born on the borders: We will continue to stand for our country’s children, for them not to be stateless and to get equal rights and hold birth certificates,” said Daw Naw Hla Hla Soe.
“The government must support not only the youth, but also the elderly. Therefore, the more budget we get, the more social support we can provide,” Pyithu Hluttaw representative U Htay Win Aung (NLD; Dawbon) told The Myanmar Times.
The UN has suggested effective, transparent and firm budgets will work to the benefit of the country’s children.
“The [social] budget is the lowest in Southeast Asia. [Myanmar] is very weak in the sectors of health, education and social affairs,” said Daw Ni Ni Hla, head of the child rights administration program.
Andrew Nilsen, communications manager for Save the Children and a member of the Child Rights Working Group, suggested that the government should ensure child services are kept in mind while deciding on budgetary allocations.
“Children’s thoughts are very soft and they use their imaginations. Seeing the inner mind of children is very important. I want to urge all the representatives to listen to the voices of children and to cooperate together to ensure child rights and protections,” said Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than.
For child representative Ma Thet Thet Zaw from Kayah State, improvements to education, rights guarantees, reaching a solid peace deal and increasing budget allocations are all high on her wish list. She also suggested the government might consider creating a tailoring course for children unable to attend school. – Translation by Emoon and Khine Thazin Han