[Press Release] Children advocates to push for “child-centered” elections -Bata Muna

Children advocates to push for “child-centered” elections

Bata munaManila, Philippines – A group of non-government and civil society organizations and child-led groups working for the protection of children’s rights will embark on a campaign that will advance children’s issues at the center of electoral discussions this May 2013 national elections.

The nationwide campaign, dubbed as “Bata Muna” will urge candidates to adopt a political platform that will stand up for children and their rights.  It will also educate voters to choose candidates that do not only kiss and hug babies during sorties, but candidates who have concrete policies and programs for children.

“This campaign aims to educate voters, candidates and the general public on the urgency of children’s issues and to bring these issues into the heart of public discussion and debate specifically for the coming elections. We hope to raise as many voices as possible, including the voices of children themselves, calling on every voter to vote for candidates who will stand up for children’s rights,” says Anna Lindenfors, Country Director of Save the Children in the Philippines.

“The campaign also aims to convince political candidates to include the issues of children in their electoral platform,” adds Lindenfors.

The Philippines, having ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC), has an obligation to do its best, to the full extent of its resources, to make sure that the rights of the child are realized in the country. Currently, 193 countries are signatory to the UN CRC.

Meanwhile, Rodelio Ablir, Executive Director of the Samahan ng Mamamayan – Zone One Tondo Organization (SM-ZOTO) opines, “we have to carefully check and elect government officials that truly care for our children and their rights.  During elections, candidates repetitively boast that they care for children only to realize that very few of them, when elected, will responsibly stand up for our kids. It is very disappointing that legislative proposals that are meant to protect our children are not considered important and had to take a back seat, while bills that threaten children’s well-being are persistently being pushed.”

“For example, our senators and congressmen are leaving the proposed positive discipline bill behind while fast tracking the amendments of the juvenile justice law specially lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12. It seems that our legislators, now in the bicameral level, are more motivated in sending children beginning the age of 12 into jail while at the same time are very cautious in taking up banning corporal punishment of children, still pending at 1st reading in the Senate as of this time” adds Ablir.

Lindenfors explains that children constitute the biggest proportion of the population that access basic services from the government. Thus, they suffer the most when services are poor or lacking, or when government is weak or inefficient. Just like any other citizen, children deserve quality programs and services. They deserve accountable, responsive and honest government officials who will look after their best interest.

“If we have these kinds of leaders in office, parents will no longer worry if they have a sick child, if they don’t have enough money for their children’s schooling or if their child is outside of their home because they know that their government will protect and provide quality services for their children,” she explains.

It has been observed that, across the world, bad governance has had a devastating effect on children, often contributing to conflict, climate change, poverty and, ultimately, the failure to promote the survival and wellbeing of the most marginalized.

The nationwide campaign will kick off in March with a solidarity launch to be jointly organized by Save the Children, SM-ZOTO, Plan International, ChildFund, Asia ACTs, Children Talk to Children (C2C) about the UN CRC Project and WomanHealth Philippines.  The highlight of the campaign is a dialogue between the political candidates and children. ENDS

For more info, please contact:
Angel Tiamson-Saceda, Communications Officer, Save the Children
angel.saceda@savethechildren.org +63 9178590759

Notes to Editors:

Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organization for children. We work in 120 countries. We save children’s lives; we fight for their rights; we help them fulfill their potential.

We work together, with our partners, to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives with programs in health, nutrition, education, protection and child rights, also in times of humanitarian crises.

Samahan ng Mamamayan – Zone One Tondo Organization, popularly known as ZOTO, is one of the oldest people’s organizations in the Philippines. For more than 40 years now since its founding during the Martial Law years, ZOTO continues to implement integrated community development programs to empower the poor in claiming their human rights. Today, the organization is composed of 646 local urban poor organizations with 32,777 members in 28 urban poor relocation areas in the NCR, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga and Rizal.

Plan is an international humanitarian, child-centered development organization working in 69 countries worldwide. Our presence in the Philippines traces back to 1961 when Plan was invited by Carlos P. Romulo, to work in the country. For over 50 years now, our work and investment have been broadly based around key issues affecting children: education, health, livelihood, governance, water and environmental sanitation, child protection and disaster risk reduction and management. We are present in six of the country’s poorest provinces: Masbate, Occidental Mindoro, Eastern Samar, Western Samar, Northern Samar, and Southern Leyte. We also have special projects in Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, Maguindanao, Compostela Valley, and Davao Oriental in Mindanao, and Tanay, Rizal in Luzon.

Plan’s vision is of a world in which all children realize their full potential in societies that respect people’s rights and dignity.  Child Centered Community Development (CCCD) is Plan’s Child Rights approach in which children, families and communities are active and leading participants in their own development. This approach recognizes the intrinsic link between poverty and rights, where poverty is both a cause and consequence of the denial of rights.

ChildFund helps deprived, excluded and vulnerable children have the capacity to improve their lives and the opportunity to become young adults, parents and leaders who bring lasting and positive change to their communities. We promote societies whose individuals and institutions participate in valuing, protecting and advancing the worth and rights of children.”

Asia ACTs is a regional network of organizations working together to protect all children in Southeast Asia from exploitation and abuse.  With partners in Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, Asia ACTs aims to create a wider community that protects violence against children and to establish strong and effective child protection mechanisms.

Children Talk to Children (C2C) about the UN CRC Project is a joint initiative of four child-led organizations. The project aims to support children in preparing and submitting their own report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child; and develop children’s skills in engaging the government and the general public in raising and addressing children’s issues. The project is involving girls and boys aged 10-17 years old based in urban communities in Metro Manila and Cavite Province. A Project Team, a core group of 24 children, leads the planning, implementation and evaluation of project activities.

Began in 2009, the C2C Project has been implementing activities to monitor the implementation of children’s rights both at the local and national levels. Furthermore, the Project has been conducting national level campaigns to hold government accountable to children’s rights and to provide spaces for different children’s organizations to meet and discuss the situation of children and actions government should take to improve the lives of boys and girls.

Since then, the Project was able to produce two magazines named Teka Muna, Bata Muna (Wait a minute, let’s put children first). The first magazine was issues in 2009. It contains artworks, games, articles and stories that children did to raise awareness on children’s rights, child rights monitoring and issues. The second magazine was issues in 2012. It contains research findings and children’s recommendations on six priority issues of children namely early pregnancy, corporal punishment, lack of safe space for children, out of school children, less participation of children and child labor. Children Talk to Children (C2C) about the UN CRC Project is a joint initiative of four child-led organizations. The project aims to support children in preparing and submitting their own report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child; and develop children’s skills in engaging the government and the general public in raising and addressing children’s issues. The project is involving girls and boys aged 10-17 years old based in urban communities in Metro Manila and Cavite Province. A Project Team, a core group of 24 children, leads the planning, implementation and evaluation of project activities. Began in 2009, the C2C Project has been implementing activities to monitor the implementation of children’s rights both at the local and national levels. Furthermore, the Project has been conducting national level campaigns to hold government accountable to children’s rights and to provide spaces for different children’s organizations to meet and discuss the situation of children and actions government should take to improve the lives of boys and girls. Since then, the Project was able to produce two magazines named Teka Muna, Bata Muna (Wait a minute, let’s put children first). The first magazine was issues in 2009. It contains artworks, games, articles and stories that children did to raise awareness on children’s rights, child rights monitoring and issues. The second magazine was issues in 2012. It contains research findings and children’s recommendations on six priority issues of children namely early pregnancy, corporal punishment, lack of safe space for children, out of school children, less participation of children and child labor.

WomanHealth Philippines is a national organization that promotes, advances and defends women’s rights to health, reproductive self-determination and sexuality towards women’s empowerment in society. A critical part of our work is collaborating with women and communities to claim their right to health through appropriate programs and increased resources to reduce infant, child and maternal mortality, and early pregnancy, and ensure access to universal health care for all.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/bata-muna/children-advocates-to-push-for-child-centered-elections/420415821376474

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8 February 2013

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