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Children Present their Charter of Demands to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in India

14th November 2016: In commemoration of International Child Rights Week and Bal Divas, Save the Children, World’s Largest Lesson India and Global Citizen India have collaborated to organise a forum to provide children with information, support and an opportunity to create a dialogue. Children put forth the Charter of Demands to Mr Abhay Narayan Tripathi, Secretary Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and Swati Kumar, Head of Policy, Global Citizen India. The children’s Charter of Demand’s will act as a guide for policy makers to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in Maharashtra and across India.
The International Child Rights Week campaign will culminate at the Global Citizen Festival India on 19th November in Mumbai. Here 60,000 people will gather to raise awareness for quality education and gender equality for every last child. These issues will also be addressed in the World’s Largest Lesson comics, shared to children by Save the Children to ensure that awareness spreads beyond the festival to all young people
In a video message Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister of Ministry of Human Resource Development said “One of the key Sustainable Development Goals is education for all and quality education for all and therefore India is committed to it. India has already achieved 97% access to education through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan now, the focus is on quality.”
“Every child has innate rights to survive and thrive, to be educated, to be free from violence and abuse, to participate and to be heard. Along with World’s Largest Lesson India we aim to put a spotlight on SDGs through children’s voices and active participation in leading the agenda. This year the children are demanding an end to child labour, clean water and toilets, safe neighbourhoods, and a designated place to play. Most significantly they are urging people to give importance to children’s opinions” says Sandhya Krishnan, General Manager, State Programme, Maharashtra.
The World’s Largest Lesson India, working in partnership with GEMS Education, aims to spread information of the SDGs to children across India throughout the education system. Save the Children and World’s Largest Lesson’s strategic partnership is raising awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals through dissemination of a comic series designed by Stan Lee, the famous graphic novelist – that has been adapted to an India context and translated to 5 Indian languages.
Richard Curtis, film-maker, co-founder of Comic Relief, UN SDG advocate and founder of Project Everyone who have created the World’s Largest Lesson said “The most important beneficiaries from the achievement of the SDGs will be our children. We want them to know this but we also need their help. We must listen to them and let them guide us to a more sustainable future in which extreme poverty is eliminated, inequalities are reduced and we are addressing the threat of climate change. The Charter of Demands is an important first step in this process and I, along with GEMS Education are delighted to be working with Save the Children let all children in India about the SDGs and the rights that they establish”

“The voices of our children are the most important part of the Global Citizen movement as they are the change-makers of tomorrow. Global Citizen India along with Save the Children and The World’s Largest Lesson India is spreading the agenda of the global goals to every part of India and the world. And as a part of the goals, together, we will ensure quality education and lifelong learning to all our children so that they can join in in the fight against poverty and stand up for an equal and just society” Says Swati Kumar, Head of Policy, Global Citizen India
“Education is very important, but it’s vital to make education interesting. If children have rights then they also have responsibility. They also have the responsibility to help educate children” says Swaroop Sampat, Educationist and Actor
Abhay Narayan Tripathi, Secretary Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights quoted a shloka in sanskrit and said “Knowledge gives humility, from humility, one attains character; From character, one acquires wealth; from wealth good deeds follow and then happiness. Education adds value to the mind and quality education will lead to overall development. We should celebrate children’s day every day, and family that does it will be the most prosperous. All children have the right to clean water and air , to play and to survive and thrive “
In Maharashtra, the survey was conducted across two urban locations, viz. Mumbai and Thane. A total of 95 children participated in this exercise across the two districts covering an age group of 9-18 years. The findings of the report have highlighted issues that are troubling most children and what they deemed is most important. The children demand a designated place to play; end to child labour for both boys and girls; give importance to children’s opinions; improve water supply; cleaner community toilets; better waste management; stop girls from getting married before 18; fresh air; discourage children from getting addicted to drugs; allow boys and girls to study beyond 10th standard; medical facility available locally for emergency treatment and safe neighbourhoods.
This year Save the Children has developed a children’s report card (CRC) for Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan and West Bengal. This is a monitoring and reporting initiative which would provide an insight into the quality of implementation of Government programmes and public service delivery as perceived by children. Based on this a charter of demands was prepared and presented to the policy makers in all the states..
Despite ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 24 years ago, 1.2 million children are still struggling to survive till their 5th birthday, 84 million have never been to school and 7.8 million are still engaged in child labour. Action must be taken now to ensure all children are achieving their rights.