UNICEF urges elec­tion can­di­dates to make chil­dren the clear win­ner

Mizzima Business Weekly - - AFFAIRS -

The top rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the United Na­tions Chil­dren’s Fund (UNICEF) in Myan­mar has re­minded can­di­dates from more than 80 po­lit­i­cal par­ties run­ning in his­toric elec­tions 99 days from to­day, “to make new com­mit­ments for chil­dren” and to im­prove spend­ing for health, ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial wel­fare which re­mains the low­est in the South­east Asian re­gion, the UN News Cen­tre re­ported on 4 Au­gust.

“Build­ing a bet­ter fu­ture for Myan­mar’s chil­dren is the most strate­gic and im­por­tant in­vest­ment that can be made in Myan­mar’s fu­ture,” said UNICEF rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ber­trand Bain­vel. “In this im­por­tant elec­tion, UNICEF calls on all po­lit­i­cal par­ties and all vot­ers to make sure one group – Myan­mar’s chil­dren – is the clear win­ner.”

Mr. Bain­vel made his ap­peal in an ad­dress ear­lier this month to rep­re­sen­ta­tives of more than 80 po­lit­i­cal par­ties at the in­vi­ta­tion of the Chair­per­son of the Union Elec­tion Com­mis­sion.

De­spite progress made, mil­lions of chil­dren in Myan­mar still lack op­por­tu­ni­ties, with long-term con­se­quences.

UNICEF cited that in re­cently re­leased 2014 Cen­sus data for Myan­mar, 4.4 mil­lion chil­dren aged 5 to 18 years still do not at­tend school, 10 mil­lion chil­dren live in poverty, and chil­dren are over rep­re­sented in the poor­est sec­tions of the pop­u­la­tion.

Although Myan­mar’s spend­ing on health and ed­u­ca­tion has re­cently in­creased, it is still the low­est in the ASEAN re­gion, and among the low­est glob­ally.

“A 6 per cent in­crease in the share of the gov­ern­ment’s bud­get – from 9 per­cent to 15 per­cent – ded­i­cated to ed­u­ca­tion, health and so­cial wel­fare, would not only re­sult in bet­ter lives and prospects for mil­lions of Myan­mar chil­dren, it would also be a smart in­vest­ment in the coun­try’s fu­ture and bring Myan­mar closer to the ASEAN av­er­age,” Mr. Bain­vel said.

Mr. Bain­vel also urged par­ties to pri­or­i­tize the

crit­i­cally im­por­tant first 1000 days in the life of a child, to achieve uni­ver­sal free and com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion by 2020, to ex­pand so­cial wel­fare and so­cial pro­tec­tion in­ter­ven­tions and to build a solid pro­tec­tion sys­tem for chil­dren.”

“What hap­pens in this elec­tion can have a crit­i­cal pos­i­tive im­pact on chil­dren’s lives to­day, and that will ben­e­fit the whole coun­try pro­foundly to­mor­row,” he said.

UNICEF iden­ti­fied the fol­low­ing ar­eas that would aid Myan­mar’s de­vel­op­ment: set­ting up cash trans­fers for all preg­nant women and chil­dren up to two years of age in 2016; hir­ing and de­ploy­ing 6000 so­cial work case man­agers across 330 in­te­grated ser­vice de­liv­ery cen­tres in 2016; reg­is­ter­ing all chil­dren at birth by 2017; im­mu­niz­ing all chil­dren us­ing gov­ern­ment re­sources by 2020; re­duc­ing un­der 5 mor­tal­ity rate by 50 per cent by 2020; halv­ing child malnutriti­on by 2020; re­duc­ing school dropout rates of chil­dren un­der 10 by 70 per cent by 2020; lift­ing more than 3 mil­lion chil­dren out of poverty; and elim­i­nat­ing the re­cruit­ment and use of chil­dren un­der 18 in the armed forces across the coun­try by 2017.

(Mizzima)

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