Three-pronged approach needed
Published in The Daily Star on Oct. 31 ::
In a recent meeting attended by the government, human rights bodies and the United Nations Population Fund, the complex issue of protecting children’s rights was discussed in detail. What emerged was that not one but several interventions are needed in tandem if rights of children and adolescents were to be protected. With more than half the urban and 7 out of 10 rural women ending up in child marriages and nearly 1 in 8 girls giving birth before the age of 15, something needs to be done and done quickly.
There are obviously numerous issues that need to be highlighted which bring forth the question of media involvement and partnership with State and non-State actors if we are to fight off age-old and deeply rooted social practices. Apart from raising awareness of children about what the law allows them as rights, it is fundamentally important to keep children in the schooling system till secondary school. Skills development of adolescents allows children a fighting chance at entering the job market in both formal and informal sectors. Women boasting skills that they can sell in the job market automatically empower them economically leading to late marriages and allowing them to make informed decisions on how to plan families. On a broader scale, principal community actors and opinion makers such as school teachers and preachers can and must be brought into the fold if any serious awareness change is to take place in society.