Even as bitter politics is raging over local bodies’ polls in Madhya Pradesh, the State Commission for Protection of Children’s Rights (SCPCR) and several NGOs supported by UNICEF are driving a ‘child-friendly’ election agenda in the state.
SCPCR member Brajesh Chouhan has written to all district collectors in the state recommending that they get affidavits signed by winning candidates (of panchayats and urban local bodies) promising that they would take care of concerns related to children.
A format of the affidavit was also sent out to the district collectors, which says: “I take the responsibility to protect the rights of all children in my panchayat/ward/ district area and to ensure their education, safety and basic amenities for them.”
Meanwhile, NGO Child Rights Observatory Madhya Pradesh (CROMP) has come up with a 24-point child-friendly election agenda, which is being handed over by children to the candidates contesting the local bodies’ polls. The candidates are being urged to promise that if elected, they would take care of the points mentioned in the agenda.
The agenda has been drafted on the basis of voices of children from its network across Madhya Pradesh. Nirmala Buch, president of the organisation, in her letter to the office bearers of various political parties, has requested them to include the issues related to child rights in their election manifestos as well as to publicise this agenda.
“The aim is to bring children issues to the forefront so that candidates when elected make sure that children issues like education, prevention of violence, nutrition, child health, water and sanitation get preference and a ‘children-first’ policy is ensured. These issues have been mentioned in detail in the agenda we are sharing,” Raghuraj Singh, member of CROMP, told THE WEEK.
In Bhopal, the agenda was shared with main mayoral candidates Malti Rai of BJP and Vibha Patel of Congress by schoolchildren. Both candidates promised that they will try to implement the points mentioned in the agenda.
The agenda has also been shared with other candidates of urban local bodies and panchayats across the state. In response, more than 200 candidates of panchayat polls have issued videos making pledges to make sure that, if elected, they will be making their panchayats child-friendly.
Sharmila Rajput of Rohana in Hoshangabad, who has been elected unopposed as sarpanch, said that children’s issues were crucial and she would make all efforts to ensure child-friendly measures in her panchayat.
Similarly, in Harda, NGO Synergy Sansthan helped children reach candidates from panchayats like Jhallar, Rasalpur and urban wards across the district. The NGO is getting promises from candidates to give priority to children issues like prevention of child marriage, getting all children in school, quality education, eradication of malnutrition, child deaths.
In Dhar and Jhabua, young volunteers of the ‘Youth4children’ campaign of UNICEF with local NGOs, are reaching out to candidates in rural areas to make sure that children issues were on their agenda.